Cleaning House: Ferguson Police Chief to Resign

Update (3/11/2015 7:20 p.m.): Police Chief Thomas Jackson will resign from the Ferguson Police Department effective March 19. He is to receive a year’s salary, close to $100,000, and health insurance as severance.


By Michael Nam

Multiple outlets including CNN and Fox News are reporting that the besieged top cop of Ferguson’s police department will be stepping down. Two other named officials, Judge Ronald Brockmeyer and City Manager John Shaw, resigned this week following the Justice Department’s highly critical investigation of the Missouri town’s police force and judiciary.

CNN had reported earlier that the police chief had been looking for some guarantees before committing to a resignation.

<blockquote>Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has indicated he is willing to step down, but first he wants to ensure that the police department stays in place and is not dissolved, a source in the Ferguson, Missouri, City Hall says.</blockquote>

The Ferguson report paints a picture of a police chief largely ineffective at promoting institutional safeguards and fixes. The federal investigators found that “while Chief Jackson implemented new department policies when he joined FPD in 2010, including on use-of-force reporting and review, these policies are routinely ignored.” They also state, “These recordkeeping problems also explain why Chief Jackson told us he could not remember ever imposing discipline for an improper use of force or ordering further training based on force problems.”

The Justice Department concluded that the city’s emphasis on revenue generation through policing mostly Black residents of Ferguson contributed to years of racial profiling. Aside from the lack of implementation of use-of-force, federal investigators noted that Jackson was routinely praised for adding to the city’s income: “In March 2011, the Chief reported to the City Manager that court revenue in February was $179,862.50, and that the total ‘beat our next biggest month in the last four years by over $17,000,’ to which the City Manager responded: ‘Wonderful!'”

Prior to becoming chief of Ferguson’s police department, Thomas Jackson was fully invested in local law-enforcement culture, having served three decades with St. Louis police in a variety of capacities, including drug-task-force commander and airplane and helicopter pilot instructor.

After the resignation of Shaw, Mayor John Knowles III had responded to calls for the ouster of Chief Jackson. “Chief Jackson is still an employee of the City of Ferguson,” Mayor James Knowles III told reporters. “That’s an employee matter we may discuss at a later date.” It remains to be seen if further changes to the municipality are in the works.

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