A judge in Pittsburgh freed the city's Police Department from almost all the federal oversight that was imposed in 1997 because of abuses against residents.
U.S. District Judge Robert Cindrich decided that only the city Office of Municipal Investigations will remain under federal oversight. The office investigates citizen complaints.
The city and the U.S. Justice Department jointly sought to end the monitoring last month, saying improvements have been made.
"There is general recognition that this Police Department has built a model system that is being replicated across the country," Mayor Tom Murphy said.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued on behalf of community and civil rights groups that oversight should continue. Activists cited problems in the investigation office, including a backlog of 300 cases.
Tim Stevens, president of the local chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, pointed to the backlog as evidence that further reform is needed. "If you have a disease in your body, you have to eliminate all of the disease before you are given a clean bill of health."