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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Police Chief Out in Ferguson, Following Judge and Others

FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) - Ferguson's police chief resigned Wednesday, becoming the third city official to step down in as many days after a scathing report from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Ferguson City Council and Police Chief Thomas Jackson agreed to the mutual separation, which will take effect on March 19. Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will then become acting chief of police.

"This was a mutual decision by both the police chief and the city's administration," the city said in a press release. "Chief Jackson will receive a severance payment and health insurance for one year."

Jackson will get a full year of his $96,000 salary, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said early Wednesday evening. Knowles told reporters that Jackson did a lot of soul searching and thought this was the best decision.

The city will begin a nationwide search for a new police chief.

The Department of Justice report, released March 4, bashed the Ferguson Police Department, claiming that years of racial profiling created years of animosity that led to violent protests in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting last August.

The 102-page report outlined a pattern of Ferguson police officers disproportionately pulling over African-American drivers and using the fines to fill city coffers.

The report also shed light on several racist emails sent by members of the police department.

Patricia Bynes, Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman, said Jackson's resignation should have come months ago.

"The fact that the report came out a week ago and he's just now talking about resigning is just sad," Bynes told Courthouse News. "It really speaks to the culture in Ferguson. They are defiant. They don't think anything is wrong, no matter who is investigating them."

Bynes hopes the Ferguson housecleaning continues. She also wants convictions to be reviewed and expungements be issued when warranted.

"It's not just about cops and municipal court clerks sending a couple of emails," Bynes said. "There are a lot of people whose lives are ruined. There are a lot of people who can't get jobs because of Chief Jackson's police department."

Rumors of Jackson's resignation swirled for months after Brown's death.

Jackson's resignation came less than a day after the Ferguson City Council voted 7-0 in favor of a mutual separation agreement with former City Manager John Shaw, who made $120,000 a year.

The Justice Department report also criticized Shaw, 39, for praising Ferguson Municipal Judge Ron Brockmeyer as a money-maker and revenue generator for the city.

"After much thought and prayer, I feel it is in the community's best interest that I step aside at this time," Shaw wrote to the City Council. "I care deeply for this community, and I believe that with our coming municipal election it is the appropriate time for the city to experience change in its city manager."

The letter addressed the DOJ report: "And while I certainly respect the work that the DOJ recently performed in their investigation and report on the city of Ferguson, I must state clearly that my office has never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor. Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false."

On Monday, Brockmeyer resigned as Ferguson municipal judge. The Missouri Supreme Court appointed appeals Judge Roy L. Richter to replace Brockmeyer until a permanent replacement is hired.

Ferguson has also lost its top court clerk and two police supervisors since the report's release.

Mayor Knowles said he has no intention of announcing his resignation, despite calls for it.

"Someone has to be here to run the ship," Knowles said.

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