How Should Ferguson Move Forward?

Rep. Lacy Clay, ABC News' Pierre Thomas and former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly, on step to reform after unrest in Ferguson.
8:48 | 08/24/14

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Transcript for How Should Ferguson Move Forward?
asking all across the country have police gone too far? Questions about military tactics, loss of diversity, lost trust. What lessons can be learned? What changes are coming? Here's Pierre Thomas with our "Closer look." All: Don't shoot! Reporter: Ferguson, Missouri. Images of anger. Tension. As the minority community faces off with a police department they don't trust. Black residents say the protests over the fatal police shooting of Michael brown was the culmination of frustrations that had been building like a ticking time bomb. We've been getting harassed so much, we're tired of it. Reporter: Stark Numbers hinted at what many could see coming. The population? 67% african-american. The police force, of 53 officers, only 3 are black. Last year, black citizens accounted for 86% of vehicle stops. And 83% of arrests. The imagery? White cops locking up black folks. The feds had no choice to step in. The white house ordering a Ve view of programs that provide military-grade equipment to police. The attorney general taking the rare step of coming to Ferguson at a moment of crisis, promising an independent investigation. The national outcry we have seen speaks to a sense of mistrust and mutual suspicion. Reporter: In this case, mistrust over a shooting where the facts still aren't clear. Was brown shot six times by a police man because he was attacking the officer? Or was it an execution? Excessive force? You promised an aggressive and independent investigation. You can't guarantee that the facts will lead to a prosecution. We'll try to do this as expeditiously as we can. On the other hand, at the end of the day, it's most important that we get it right. Reporter: We've been here before. The images out of Ferguson are haunting and familiar. Los Angeles. Cincinnati. Oakland. Cities consumed by racial turmoil after charges of police brutality against blacks. Have any lessons been learned? After riots in Cincinnati in 2001 following the shooting death of an unarmed black teen, by police, use of force policies were rewritten. Police partnered with community groups. This activist -- We have come a long way from where we were in 2001. Change doesn't come easy. If anyone is attempting to try to reform police department without their community, it is not going to work. Reporter: Cincinnati trying new technology. Officers wearing body cameras. As part of their uniforms. Get on the ground, get on the ground! Reporter: She thinks such tools could help other cities. Sir, do you have any I.D. On you? The body cameras will help with the checks and balances that citizens are screaming to have. And Pierre joins us now along with former New York police police stationer ray Kelly, now an ABC news consultant, and from St. Louis, congressman William lacy clay. We have had a couple of days of calm in Ferguson. What are you hearing on the ground today? What is the most important thing for Ferguson going forward? Well, first of all, George, tomorrow we will bury Michael brown. And I think this past week, with the presence of attorney general holder, he brought a calming force here to St. Louis to Ferguson. And it kind of reinforced people's trust that at least on one track, there will be a -- an above-board, thorough investigation on the part of the federal government, especially with the FBI here as well as the U.S. Department of justice. The front page of your hometown paper this morning, the St. Louis post dispatch points out one of the problems. Out of balance. It shows the disparity between the populations and the number of my or N of minorities on the police force. How do you fix that? Well, first of all, let's -- we need to have a conversation about how the system has failed. A predominantly african-american population. When you look at a city like Ferguson. It tells us that we need to have a more diverse police force. And that the police that do -- do police the african-american community have to -- be sensitive. And understand the culture. And we have to -- treat people differently. With respect. Okay, congressman. Finally, you have been critical of the military tactics of the police. Yet two months ago, you voted against legislation that would have prevented the military from distributing the heavy weapons and equipment. So why? Well, the program was intended to provide weapons to fight well-armed drug cartels and to respond to any future terrorist attacks in a community. And over 350 members of the house voted against the Grayson amendment. But after seeing the optics in Ferguson, of well-armed police forces pointing guns at my constituents who were assembled peacefully, George, I knew that it was time for a review. I want to thank the president for announcing that review after congressman cleaver and I met with secretary Hagel this week. Okay, conk congressman, thank you very much. I want to bring that question to ray Kelly. The white house announcing a review of the military program. The dispatch of military equipment to local police forces. Several years ago, after 9/11 police forces clamoring for it. How do we deal with this tension? Well, first of all, I think the grants from the justice department and homeland security have been positive for law enforcement in our post-9/11 world. Training, cameras. That sort of thing. Major grant to help us defend New York City. With the lower Manhattan security initiative. I think the military equipment, that this -- the distribution of military equipment has to be examined. People get uneasy when they see humvees, military vehicles, heavy weapons. I think the fundamental question is, what is the need? Do we need that equipment? And, does it make people feel like the police are an occupying army? As far as the military distribution of equipment, it deserves examination. Perhaps it's stored on state level. And distributed when there is a major emergency. Only in case of a major crisis. This question of cameras, Pierre in places where it's been tried, you see instances of misconduct go down. It gives a clear understanding what is happening. When you have mistrust in the african-american community, to the police department, it allows a calming effect. In Cincinnati, when there would be a controversy incident, they would roll out the tape. People could see precisely what happened and that had a calming effect. And the whole question of whether the police departments reflect the communities they serve, here in New York, you have had to deal with that. You have put in a concerted effort to make sure we have minority representation. We have police officers born in 106 countries. It's so important to have a police force that better reflects the community that you serve. You need an aggressive, pro-active recruiting campaign. You have to look at consolidation in St. Louis county. There are 60 police departments in St. Louis county. They can do joint recruiting. And obviously, the potential for saving money if you con sol dasolidate some of those departments. Anything the federal government can do? Funding. Providing money. I would say training, training, training. The indisputable fact is that african-american males do commit a large amount of crime. You have to have the training to apply your resources and your investigations to the specific case and not see skin color. Okay, Pierre Thomas, ray Kelly, thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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