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Five days after an officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., protesters continue to clash with police. The riots and violence have highlighted the small police department in the St. Louis suburb of about 20,000.

Here's a look at Ferguson's police department:

1. The demographics of the Ferguson police do not represent the community

The small city of Ferguson has changed from predominantly white to having a majority black population in the last few decades. In 1970, Ferguson was 99% white; now, the city has a 29% white population and 67% black. The police department, however, does not reflect the demographics of the town's residents - only three of the 53-officer department are black. The police chief, Thomas Jackson, is white.

2. Black people account for most arrests in Ferguson

Last year, black residents accounted for 86% of the vehicle stops made by Ferguson police and nearly 93% of the arrests made from those stops, according to the state attorney general. FBI statistics show that 85% of the people arrested by Ferguson police are black, and that 92% of people arrested specifically for disorderly conduct are black.

3. Crime has decreased

In 2008, the town's crime rate was significantly higher than the state average, but since then, violent crime has consistently dropped each year. There were 163 instances of violent crime in Ferguson in 2008 and only 80 in 2012, according FBI data.

4. Ferguson Police Department's role, compared with other area police

The officer accused of fatally shooting 18-year-old Mike Brown is from the Ferguson Police Department, but the department turned the investigation over to St. Louis County Police. A visible force in confrontations with protesters - wearing riot gear, driving tanks, and using tear gas and stun guns on protesters - the county police have made headlines, including for arresting journalists from the Washington Post and Huffington Post.

On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon promised a "different tone" and an "operational shift" by the police armed near the demonstrations, naming Missouri Highway Patrol head of security.

5. The police uses military equipment from the Department of Defense

The Ferguson Police Department is part of the DoD 1033 program, which distributes surplus military equipment, including automatic weapons and heavy armored vehicles such as MRAPS, to local police departments across the United States. Law enforcement agencies in St. Louis County received 12 5.56 millimeter rifles and six .45 caliber pistols from the program between August 2010 and February 2013 and Ferguson is one of those agencies.

An official from the Defense Logistics Agency said the town's department most recently acquired two vehicles, a trailer and a generator in November. Police Chief Thomas Jackson said, "It's not a military, it's tactical operations," during a press conference on Thursday.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: 5 things to know about Ferguson Police Department

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