Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s resignation was announced on Wednesday and will be effective March 19. The resignation comes seven months after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and one week after federal investigators accused his department of violating constitutional rights and disproportionately targeting the city’s black residents.
The release of the federal report has also led the city’s municipal judge, city manager, top court clerk, and two police supervisors to resign or be fired as well.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said at a news conference, “After a lot of soul-searching, it is very hard for him to leave, and for us to have him leave.” The mayor described the decision as “mutual” between Jackson and city officials.
Jackson, who became police chief in 2010, didn’t speak at the conference and gave no comment to questions.
The Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson will receive a severance payment of around $96,000 and health insurance for a year.
Lt. Col. Alan Eickhoff will serve as interim chief while a search for Jackson’s successor is conducted.
In light of the federal report, Ferguson officials must decide whether they will reach a settlement with the Justice Department or challenge some of the reforms the federal officials suggested in court.
The report targeted the police chief, stating that he tried to meet revenue goals through increased ticketing. Federal investigators cited data that black motorists and pedestrians received a disproportionately high number of those tickets.
The Justice Department also found evidence of racist jokes being sent around by Ferguson police and court officials.
Jackson has been scrutinized since Brown’s death. A few days after the encounter, the police chief released footage of Brown stealing cigars and shoving a clerk before Officer Wilson shot him. Protesters accused him of trying to smear the 18-year-old’s character.
About a month and a half after the shooting, he tried to calm city tensions by sending a videotaped apology to Brown’s family and trying to join protesters in the streets. His attempts only made tensions worse.
Tony Rice, a Ferguson resident activist, said he was somewhat disappointed by Jackson’s resignation because he thought the chief was “malleable.” He believed Jackson was willing to listen to the demonstrators’ proposal to abolish outstanding traffic tickets.
Rice also said he regularly talked to Jackson off the record and that “his main concern most of the time was the safety of the protesters…He never told me, ‘Hey man, don’t throw stuff at us, don’t cuss at us…’ He was worried about our safety more than anything.”
Before his resignation, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson defended his officers but promised to work with the community to work on progressive changes.[Photo Credit: Tiffany Von Arnim]