Washington (AFP) - Attorney General Eric Holder warned Friday that he was prepared to dismantle the Ferguson police department after an official report unearthed damning evidence that officers in the St. Louis suburb targeted African Americans.
The Justice Department also uncovered a cache of racist emails and proof of multiple rights violations in the Missouri town where a white policeman shot dead an unarmed black teenager on August 9, 2014, sparking civil unrest and a national outcry.
"We are prepared to use all the powers that we have, all the power that we have, to ensure that the situation changes there. That means everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure," Holder said.
Asked if that included taking apart the Ferguson force, he replied: "If that's what's necessary, we're prepared to do that."
Holder said he was "shocked" by the official findings into practices in Ferguson, a majority black town with a mostly white police force, and had a warning for police departments across the United States.
"I hope they're listening to these comments and understand the intensity with which the feelings are felt at the federal government level to ensure that we use all the tools that we can to make sure that what happened in Ferguson is uncovered and simply does not happen in any other part of the country," he said.
Separately, Barack Obama, the first black president of the US, said he believed the deep racism unearthed in the Ferguson force was not common, but could exist elsewhere in the country.
"I don't think that is typical of what happens across the country, but it's not an isolated incident," Obama told Sirius XM radio in an interview broadcast Friday.
"There are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement have broken down," Obama added.
"Individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure that they are protecting and serving all people and not just some."
Despite what Holder has called a "searing report" into Ferguson's police department, the government will not prosecute the policeman, Darren Wilson, responsible for killing teenager Michael Brown.
Brown's family are planning to sue in a civil case.
The death prompted weeks of sometimes violent protests, and ignited a national debate about race relations and law enforcement in the United States.
Obama convened a task force which issued almost 60 recommendations to police that are designed to rebuild trust.
The measures include introducing external investigations "in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths."