Ferguson police chief resigns
FERGUSON, Mo. — A week after a scathing Justice Department report slammed his department, embattled Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson is about to be out of a job.
Jackson and the city “have agreed to a mutual separation which involves the chief’s resignation,” effective March 19, the city announced Wednesday.
Jackson confirmed his resignation in a letter.
“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing I am stepping down from my position as chief of police for the city of Ferguson, Missouri,” Jackson said, adding that serving the city as police chief “has been an honor and a privilege.”
He will receive a severance payment and health insurance for one year, with Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff assuming his duties during a nationwide search for a new chief, the city said.
Jackson appeared to consider resigning in the past, but stayed put up to now.
Ferguson City Manager John Shaw stepped down Tuesday following the Justice Department report, which exposed problems in the city’s policing tactics. The report mentions both men by name.
Jackson did not respond Wednesday to repeated requests from CNN for comment.
The Justice Department’s report faulted Ferguson’s officers for seeing residents as “sources of revenue,” a practice that disproportionately targeted African-Americans.
The investigators also found evidence of racist jokes being sent around by Ferguson police and court officials.
Two police officers resigned last week and the city’s top court clerk was fired in connection with racist emails, city spokesman Jeff Small said on Friday.
Last week Jackson declined to comment on details in the report.
“I need to have time to really analyze this report so I can comment on it,” Jackson told CNN Thursday.
When asked what he planned to do about the report’s findings, the chief said he would “take action as necessary.”
Asked whether that meant he would remain at the department, Jackson repeated himself: “I’m gonna take action where necessary.”
When Jackson became Ferguson’s police chief in 2010, it was supposed to be a relatively easy way to cap his career in law enforcement.
After some 30 years with the St. Louis County Police Department, serving as commander of a drug task force and SWAT team supervisor, being a police chief of a smaller department should have been less stressful.
The shooting of Michael Brown last year changed everything.
Brown, an African-American teen, was unarmed when he was shot by a white Ferguson police officer. The incident exposed feelings of distrust between Ferguson’s black community and its police department, which is overwhelmingly white.
Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, won’t face any criminal charges for the shooting. In November, a grand jury decided not to indict him. Last week the Justice Department said Wilson’s actions “do not constitute prosecutable violations” of federal civil rights law. He resigned from the department in November, citing security concerns.
But that hasn’t stopped criticism of the department from local residents and top federal officials.
Even before the Justice Department report was finished, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said it was “pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate.”
Over the past six months, Jackson has defended his officers and vowed to work with the community.
“I intend to see this thing through. And I’ve been working with a lot of community members to work on some progressive changes that will bring the community together and to open up dialogue and getting us all talking about serious issues and actually creating solutions to problems,” he told CNN in November.