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Ferguson Chief Takes Steps Urged in Report

Protesters block traffic on the street outside the Ferguson, Mo., police department Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Ferguson. The Justice Department on Wednesday cleared a white former Ferguson police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old, but also issued a scathing report calling for sweeping changes in city law enforcement practices it called discriminatory and unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protesters block traffic on the street outside the Ferguson, Mo., police department Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Ferguson. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

FERGUSON, Mo. (New York Times) — Addressing one of the Justice Department’s primary recommendations for the Police Department here, the new acting police chief said on Thursday that he was working to better integrate his officers with the community by putting them on more bike patrols and encouraging them to walk the beat and speak with residents. The efforts pushed by Chief Alan Eickhoff, who took his post a week ago, come even as he conceded that many of his officers were still worried about their safety as anger continues after a white Ferguson police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager last August.

Safety concerns were stoked further after demonstrators recently set upon a black Ferguson officer who was responding to a disturbance at a local McDonald’s, yelling profane slurs at him and throwing plastic water bottles.

“You can’t let a few people destroy what we’re trying to do,” Chief Eickhoff said. “I worry every night when I go home at night, am I going to get a phone call, two o’clock in the morning, one of my officers have been hurt, shot, killed?”

Chief Eickhoff, 58, joined the department as the assistant chief only about five days before Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. He said he would apply for the permanent position as chief only if the City Council was pleased with his work and he was asked to apply.

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