TIME Travel

These Cities Have Lost the Most Flights

U.S. Skies and Roads Busy Ahead Of Memorial Day Weekend
Scott Olson—Getty Images Passengers wait in line at a security checkpoint at O'Hare Airport in Chicago.

Flight cuts haven't been distributed equally

In the past decade, the U.S. airline industry’s landscape shifted from nine large airlines to four mega-carriers that make up a combined 80% of all U.S. flights.

One consequence of the industry’s consolidation is a cut-back in flight schedules over the past four years that has resulted in an approximately 7% decrease in overall flights, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The flight cuts haven’t been distributed equally. Airports that are frequently used as hubs to connect flights rather than as final destinations — such as Memphis and Cleveland — saw the number flights shrink 66% and 44.6%, respectively. The shrinkage, and even the closure of hub operations, means fewer connecting flight options for passengers, leaving the pricier, non-stop tickets up for sale.

The second hardest hit airport after Memphis: Newport News in Virginia, which experienced a flight schedule shrinkage of 51%, in part due to Southwest’s cancellation of service to the city after acquiring AirTran, according to the Journal. Milwaukee, Cleveland, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Key West, and Colorado Springs all saw their departing flights decrease over 40% in four years.

The Department of Justice notified the mega-carriers on June 30 that it is investigating them for possible collusion in the schedule reductions in order to boost profits. (The investigation comes less than two years after the government approved the merger of US Airways and American Airlines to create the world’s largest airline.) The consolidation in airlines has been widely blamed for fare hikes. According to an Associated Press report, a lack of competitive pressure is a major factor leading to domestic fares growing faster than inflation. Domestic fares rose 5% over the last decade after adjusting for inflation, not including the fees piled on for baggage or preferred seats.

But not everyone is convinced the consolidation is so bad for passengers. A PricewaterhouseCoopers report in 2014 found that the mega-carriers still face competition from smaller airlines, like low-cost carriers and ultra-low-cost carriers. A dramatic increase in flight departures from some airports, such as St. Pete-Clearwater and Orlando Sanford in Florida (94% and 71% jumps, respectively), underlines that trend. According to the Journal, the increases were primarily driven by new service from low-cost carriers. The PwC report also said that the consolidations have made the industry more reliable and efficient, and “made the industry’s financial outlook much stronger.”

That’s certainly true: across the airline industry, airlines are gearing up for record profits. On Thursday, Southwest reported earning a record $608 million in 2015’s second quarter. United also reported a surging second quarter on Thursday, earning $1.19 billion, up from $789 million in the same quarter last year. A week earlier, Delta posted second quarter earnings of $1.49 billion — jump of 85%. To round out the mega-carrier second quarter earning reports, American will announce on Friday. Expect big profits.

TIME AT&T

AT&T’s $49 Billion Acquisition of DirecTV to Get Regulatory Approval

It would be the year’s biggest media deal, report says

Step aside, Verizon and AOL.

If AT&T succeeds in its $49 billion dollar bid to acquire DirecTV, the match will be the year’s biggest media deal—an order of magnitude larger than the $4.4 billion Verizon agreed to shell out for AOL earlier this year. Even in the parallel universe where Comcast’s botched $45 billion Time Warner Cable takeover was a triumph, this deal is still bigger.

What’s more: the match—originally proposed in May 2014—seems very likely to go through. The deal is all but inked, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources.

Regulators from the Federal Communications Commissions are apparently in the midst of wrapping up their review of AT&T’s potential purchase. The company already has clearance from the Department of Justice. All that’s left is for the FCC’s five commissioners, including chairman Tom Wheeler, to formally submit their approval.

As Journal reporter Thomas Gryta notes:

The transaction will make AT&T the nation’s largest pay television provider in addition to the second biggest wireless carrier at a time when companies are trying to figure out how best to handle the massive shifts among media companies as video consumption moves online. The combination will pair AT&T’s regional U-verse pay TV business with DirecTV’s satellite operation, which is nationwide but lacks a robust broad band offering.

Previously, AT&T lost $4 billion and failed to win approval for an attempted T-Mobile takeover in 2011. This time round? Apparently things are going much more smoothly.

TIME Edward Snowden

Snowden Documentary Filmmaker Laura Poitras Is Suing the U.S. Government

Her treatment at airports was 'Kafkaesque,' she says

For the past six years, Laura Poitras has always had a homecoming party.

Each time the award-winning video journalist has attempted to re-enter the United States, border patrol has detained her, according to a lawsuit she filed against the United States government on Monday. That’s more than 50 occasions in total.

Why? That’s her question, too. Poitras, creator of the Oscar-, Pulitzer-, and Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfourwhich chronicles the exploits of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—desires to know why security agents repeatedly harassed her during that period when she was working on her films.

Apparently, she had been told during one of many hours-long detainments that her name appeared on a national security threat database. After filing Freedom of Information Act requests for her records, she received few clarifying details. So she’s taking legal action.

Poitras will take the departments of justice and homeland security, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to court. She has demanded access to the surveillance records that pertain to her.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said in a statement. “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy. I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders. We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”

TIME justice

Citizenfour Filmmaker Laura Poitras Is Suing the U.S. Over Years of Alleged Harassment

Director Laura Poitras arrives to attend the Chaplin award at Alice Tully Hall in New York April 27, 2015.
Eduardo Munoz—Reuters Director Laura Poitras arrives to attend the Chaplin award at Alice Tully Hall in New York April 27, 2015.

Poitras said she was "subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment" at U.S. and foreign borders

Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras filed a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. government to find out why she has been searched, questioned and subject to enhanced security screenings over the course of six years at U.S. and overseas airports.

Poitras, who won an Academy Award this year for Citizenfour, her documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, claims that between 2006 and 2012 she was detained every time she entered the U.S. for work.

After filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests last year for case files, surveillance records and documents naming or related to her, Poitras received scant response.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said in a statement released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy.”

The 51-year-old Boston native said she was filing the FOIA suit against the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in support of “the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders.”

Poitras says that during various detentions she was told by airport security agents that she had a criminal record, even though she had not, and that her name appeared on a national security threat database.

According to the suit, she also had her mobile phone, laptop, camera and notebooks seized and was once threatened with handcuffing for taking notes during her detention.

TIME justice

Cleveland Police Restrictions by DOJ Among the Most Extensive, Expert Says

Cleveland Police Shooting Protest
Tony Dejak—AP Protesters congregate in front of city hall Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Cleveland. Members of about 40 churches are protesting the acquittal of a white patrolman charged in the deaths of two unarmed black motorists with a march through downtown Cleveland.

The 110-page report's mandates rank alongside New Orleans' requirements

The U.S. Department of Justice’s 110-page settlement agreement with the Cleveland Police Department released Tuesday includes one of the most extensive sets of restrictions ever placed upon a law enforcement agency, according to a federally appointed monitor working on a similar case.

The agreement requires Cleveland’s police to adopt hundreds of new policies and procedures to fix what the federal government has called a pattern of systemic abuses and unconstitutional practices. It includes mandates to adopt community policing strategies, prohibitions on use of force for people who are handcuffed or restrained and restrictions on firing from and at moving vehicles, as well as extensive mandates on logging use of force incidents—including each time officers unholster their weapons.

The agreement also includes a mandate to invest in police resources like computers, vehicles and other equipment. Geoffrey Alpert, a federally appointed monitor working with police in New Orleans, says he’s never seen a DOJ agreement that included a pledge to boost resources.

“I think that’s essentially the Justice Department saying, ‘Part of the problem is you didn’t fund your police department adequately,'” Alpert says.

Alpert monitors the implementation of what is generally considered the most extensive comprehensive agreement handed down by the DOJ to a law enforcement agency: the 2012 consent decree involving New Orleans police.

MORE: The Problems With Policing the Police

Following a DOJ report that found a history of corruption, use of excessive force and discrimination throughout New Orleans police, the government issued a 122-page agreement calling for a new reporting system to track all use of force incidents; prohibiting threats of violence during suspect interviews; requiring recordings of all interrogations; and even offering guidelines on how officers should refer to transgender residents.

But just as important, says Alpert, the agreement was the first to include outcome measures to determine whether the department was fulfilling its mandated requirements. And since then, he believes the DOJ agreements with departments like Ferguson, Mo., Newark, N.J., and Albuquerque, N.M., have improved over time for each agency.

“Justice has a learning curve,” Alpert says, referring to the DOJ. “You learn from your mistakes, and the agreements after those are oftentimes better versions.”

As the department implements its reforms, Cleveland is awaiting a decision on whether officers will be charged in the deaths last fall of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot as he was playing with a replica gun, and Tanisha Anderson, who died following an altercation with police. Rice’s family is suing the police department for negligence.

Last week, a judge acquitted Officer Michael Brelo, who is white, in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, both of whom were black. Officers fired 137 shots into their vehicle following a police chase. Brelo, who was acquitted of manslaughter, fired 15 shots into the car after climbing onto its hood. Last year, Cleveland settled a lawsuit with the victims’ families over their deaths.

TIME Department of Justice

Loretta Lynch Sworn In as 83rd Attorney General

“It’s about time this woman is being sworn in,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday

After a historically long wait, Loretta Lynch officially became the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S. on Monday.

“It’s about time this woman is being sworn in,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday at Lynch’s ceremony. With her husband and father — who recently celebrated his 83rd birthday — by her side, Lynch took the oath of office to become the first African-American woman to hold the position.

And despite the lengthy wait that defined her nomination process and led to harsh words from President Obama for congressional Republicans, Lynch came across as humbled and gracious during her remarks as the nation’s newly minted top prosecutor.

“It would be an understatement to say my heart is full, but it is,” Lynch said Monday.

She thanked Obama and Biden for “believing in me.” She thanked Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Schumer for “making the floor of the United States Senate a welcoming place.” She thanked her father, who had become a bit of a mainstay throughout the nomination process, appearing at every hearing to support his daughter. She also thanked the throngs of people who demanded a swift confirmation of her post, even though the process was all-but swift.

In the end, she said the one thing that her swearing in made clear is that anything is possible for the Department of Justice.

“If a little girl from North Carolina who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule … ‘way up high, granddaddy’ can grow up to become the attorney general of the United States of America,” she said, “we can do anything.”

TIME jeb bush

Jeb Bush Says Senate Should Confirm Loretta Lynch

Jeb Bush
Mark Humphrey—AP Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in Nashville on April 10, 2015.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush weighed in Thursday on the delayed confirmation of Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to be Attorney General, urging the Senate to move along with its consideration.

Answering questions at a town hall with New Hampshire primary voters at the Snowshoe Club, Bush, an all-but-announced Republican presidential candidate, stopped short of explicitly calling for Lynch’s confirmation. Her nomination to replace Attorney General Eric Holder has been stalled for an unusually long 160 days over a Senate showdown on an unrelated sex-trafficking bill that includes a controversial abortion provision.

“I think that Presidents have the right to pick their team,” Bush told a crowd of about 95 voters and a horde of media.

Bush said he had reservations about Lynch’s positions on gun control, but said presidential nominees deserve swift consideration.

“The longer it takes to confirm her, the longer Eric Holder stays as Attorney General,” Bush added, sending a signal to Republicans to lift their opposition to Lynch was only elongating the tenure of someone they like even less. “Look at it that way.”

Bush criticized Holder for having “politicized” his office, adding, “there should be some humbleness inside the Department of Justice.”

During the 60-minute Politics and Pie event, Bush was questioned about Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba and was challenged over his support of comprehensive immigration reform, telling one vocal critic, “I respect your view, but I don’t have to agree with it.”

He also addressed the dynasty question, joking that he’s not running for President to try to “break the tie between the Adams family and the Bush family,” referencing the second and sixth, and the 41st the 43rd Presidents, respectively.

Afterward, Bush, who brought a pair of key lime pies of south Florida’s famed Joe’s Stone Crab, sampled a blueberry pie, breaking his months-long paleo diet to sample some blueberry pie. “To hell with the diet … where are the french fries,” he quipped.

TIME Congress

Senate Democrat Says Nominee Told to ‘Sit in the Back of the Bus’

Justice Department Officials Announce Charges Against HSBC
Ramin Talaie—Getty Images U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch arrives for a news conference to announce money laundering charges against HSBC on Dec. 11, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The White House has avoided making similar arguments

Senate Democrats are turning up the heat on Republicans for delaying a vote on Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, implying that it’s tied to her race.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the upper chamber, argued that the four-month delay of Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated for the post, may be related to her race. Using wording suggestive of the days of segregation, he said that Lynch had been told to “sit in the back of the bus.”

Durbin said that there was “no substantive reason” for delaying Lynch’s confirmation process, which has been the longest for an Attorney General nominee in 30 years and longer than the past five nominees combined.

“This is the first African-American woman in the history of the United States to be nominated to serve as attorney general. It is a civil rights milestone,” said Durbin. “Why has the Senate Republican leadership decided to target this good woman and to stop her from serving as the first African-American attorney general of the United States of America? There is no good reason. There is no substantive reason.”

“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” he added. “That is unfair, it’s unjust, it is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness.”

Durbin’s comments echoed those of Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who said Tuesday that race “certainly can be considered a major factor” in her delay.

But Durbin’s rhetoric Wednesday is a clear escalation from those of his Democratic colleagues. White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated Tuesday that Lynch is well qualified for the post but did not remark on her race.

“Well, let me just say that if Ms. Lynch were not confirmed by the United States Senate, it would be an astonishing display of partisanship,” said Earnest. “Particularly given the fact that not a single member of the United States Senate has raised a legitimate concern about her aptitude for that office.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Lynch vote won’t occur until after the Senate passes a bill that would help victims of sex trafficking, which Democrats have been filibustering recently over abortion provisions. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said that the Lynch nomination is next on the schedule and would occur as soon as Democrats lifted their obstruction.

“The only thing holding up that vote is the Democrats’ filibuster of a bill that would help prevent kids from being sold into sex slavery,” said Stewart. “The sooner they allow the Senate to pass that bipartisan bill, the sooner the Senate can move to the Lynch nomination.”

With reporting by Maya Rhodan/Washington

TIME Crime

How to Rebuild the Ferguson Police Department

Police are deployed to keep peace along Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 16, 2014.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Police are deployed to keep peace along Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 16, 2014.

Other troubled local police forces show the way after a scathing federal report

At the end of the U.S. Department of Justice’s report into widespread police misconduct in Ferguson, Mo., are a series of recommended reforms so extensive that it’s as if the law enforcement agency would be best served by tearing the whole thing down and starting from scratch.

That might just be the point.

The report listed a series of overhauls that would require retraining dozens of police officers while upending the agency’s policing strategies, all in an effort to repair the department’s relationship with communities of color in the aftermath of last summer’s shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. That shooting led to weeks of often violent protests in the St. Louis suburb. And while Wilson was never charged and the federal report largely corroborated his version of events, it nevertheless faulted the mostly white local police for being systemically and violently prejudiced against the majority black town’s residents.

“Members of the community may not have been responding to a single isolated confrontation but also to a pervasive, coercive and deep lack of trust,” Attorney General Eric Holder said of the protesters on Wednesday. “Some of those protesters were right.” He said federal authorities will make sure the local police force takes “immediate, wholesale and structural corrective action.”

MORE: These Are Some of the Racist Emails Ferguson Police Sent

So what’s next?

Ferguson has examples it can look to as it rebuilds: Over the last decade, several U.S. police departments have been subjected to federal oversight. Cincinnati reformed its department after an unarmed black teenager was shot in 2001. Maricopa County‘s force in Arizona was sued by the Department of Justice in 2012 over charges of racially profiling Latinos. Seattle and New Orleans both came under federal scrutiny for excessive force and misconduct.

But the most relevant example might be found in East Haven, Conn.—a town and police force that is similar in size to Ferguson—where the DOJ found a pattern of illegal searches, traffic stops and use of force against Latinos by local cops. In October 2012, the Justice Department reached a settlement with the town to change the police agency’s treatment of Latino residents. Two years later, compliance expert Kathleen O’Toole, now the Seattle police chief, called the progress of the East Haven Police “remarkable.”

The kind of reforms that will likely take place in Ferguson may be similar to what occurred in East Haven. Police officers there each completed 60-100 hours of training on practices like bias-free policing and use of force. One lieutenant attended an executive education program at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

The training appears to have made a difference. In December 2011, the Justice Department found that traffic stops of Latino drivers by the East Haven police accounted for 19.9% of stops, which was more than the percentage of Latino drivers (15.5%). But during the year the police trained—from December 2012 to June 2013—the federal report found that only 8.9% of traffic stops were of Latinos. It cost roughly $2.5 million over four years to reform the department, according to the New Haven Register,

Kym Craven, the director of the Public Safety Strategies Group, a police consulting firm, says that reforms for agencies like Ferguson need to begin at the recruiting and hiring phase to ensure a department’s officers are reflective of its community. She says departments also need to have explicit policies and procedures in place that lay out what police chiefs expect from officers.

Ferguson may go through scenario-based training like what happened in East Haven to better react to situations where implicit racial biases may affect how an officer handles a situation. Those biases, Craven says, should also be talked about honestly and openly within the department and with the community.

But the biggest changes could likely come with a shift toward community policing, which has been routinely discussed as an alternative to the so-called “broken windows” strategy—which focuses on lower-level crimes on the assumption that it helps keep overall crime rates down.

MORE: U.S. Faults Ferguson Police for Racial Bias

The DOJ report’s first recommendation includes implementing a shift from “policing to raise revenue to policing in partnership with the entire Ferguson community,” while calling for more community partnerships between police and residents.

One city that appears to have found success with community policing is Atlanta. Two incidents eroded trust between the city’s residents and the police department over the years: a 2009 incident in which officers raided a gay bar while reportedly using derogatory slurs that triggered a federal lawsuit, and the death of a 92-year-old black woman by a drug strike force team in 2006.

“We lost the confidence in both our black community and the GLBT community,” says Atlanta Police George Turner, who took over the agency in 2010.

Turner soon shifted the department toward community-based policing that required police to get out of their cars, patrol their neighborhoods and engage with citizens. He outfitted cops with less-lethal weapons like TASERs, but sought the community’s involvement in the decision first. The city today has 4,600 surveillance cameras that feed into police headquarters, but the department asked for community input on where they should be placed. Turner has also set up special liaisons with the Hispanic and gay and lesbian communities.

“I think this is the most effective way,” Turner says. “You have to work every day with community leaders. People will give you an opportunity to investigate when crises happen, but you don’t get that unless you have a relationship with people and relationships are built on trust.”

The department has been widely praised by police experts, but it’s a cautionary tale nonetheless: The Atlanta Citizen Review Board actually saw complaints go up between 2012 and 2013, but numbers have remained stable since, according to statistics compiled by the Christian Science Monitor.

“Community policing was something that was started a long time ago, and it’s morphed into community relations,” Craven says. “But departments need to get back to the root of it, which is joint problem-solving between the police and the community. It’s more than having a BBQ or a picnic.”

The Justice Department also appears more willing to fully back community policing in ways it hasn’t in the past. Bob Stewart, president of Bobcat Training and Consulting, says that in the last two years, consent decrees—which are court-mandated orders that require police departments to follow federal guidelines—have increasingly recommended initiatives that deal with community trust and civilian oversight.

It’s likely that Ferguson will eventually be the subject of a consent decree, forcing the town’s police department to reform. But it’s possible that those reforms, taking place at a police department that drove a national conversation about race and use of force nationwide last summer, could be the focus of a new discussion, one about better ways of policing.

TIME justice

U.S. Faults Ferguson Police for Racial Bias

Protesters drop a mirrored casket in front of a line of police officers in front of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo. on Oct. 10, 2014.
Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Getty Images Protesters drop a mirrored casket in front of a line of police officers in front of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., on Oct. 10, 2014

The report is scathing, but the big question is what comes next

The violent protests in Ferguson last August were driven by the indelible image of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, lying in the street after a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot him dead. But the outrage in Ferguson, and the national debate that accompanied it, were also about something harder to see: racism, and the allegation that Ferguson’s largely white cops were deeply, systematically and violently prejudiced against black residents.

Now, as one of his last acts as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder has painted a picture of Ferguson’s entrenched racism that is clear and unmistakable. A Justice Department investigation opened after Brown’s shooting has found routine patterns and practices of racism in Ferguson, including the excessive use of force and unjustified arrests, officials said Tuesday. The findings are scathing in their detail:

In 88 percent of the cases in which the department used force, it was against African Americans. In all of the 14 canine-bite incidents for which racial information was available, the person bitten was African American.

In Ferguson court cases, African Americans are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge, according to the Justice review. In 2013, African Americans accounted for 92 percent of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued.

The investigation also turned up bigoted emails, like one from November 2008 that reportedly said President Obama wouldn’t complete his first term as President because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported another racist message, from May 2011, reading: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”

The Justice Department spent 100 days in Ferguson collecting such details, and the report is an end in itself, putting an official stamp on the town’s problems that some had found easy to dismiss. But when it comes to fixing the harsh reality of racism in Ferguson, it’s not clear transparency will be enough.

The question now is whether the report will deliver reform in the beleaguered St. Louis suburb. The Justice Department under Holder has significantly increased the number of pattern or practice investigations, and some past settlements with police departments have led to dramatic improvements. But others say the department’s lack of enforcement powers mean reform depends on local politicians, and worry Ferguson’s leaders won’t bring change.

Under the 1994 law authorizing such “pattern or practice” investigations, the Justice Department has little enforcement power to fix the problems it finds. As a rule, it enters into contracts with the offending force, which agrees to increase transparency and data collection and to provide better training and supervision.

Police officials and their unions often resist reform, several studies have shown. The Justice Department has “very few sticks they can use,” to get past such obstacles, says Elliot Harvey Schatmeier, a lawyer at the New York City office of Kirkland & Ellis and the author of one such study.

Others say that in many cases, the attention brought by the investigations is enough. In Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Los Angeles, Justice Department investigations led to successful reforms, says Chris Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations and a criminal-justice scholar. More important, Stone says, “They’ve established a national standard for what good policing looks like.”

Holder’s Ferguson findings, Stone says, have the potential to lead to a similar blueprint for smaller, suburban police forces around the country, which have typically been hard to reform.

By the same token, though, a failure in the high-profile Ferguson case could set back the effort to reform small police departments. Holder has established with clarity the problem in Ferguson. But without local political buy-in, the town that came to symbolize 21st century police racism in America could end up symbolizing its resistance to reform too.

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