Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson to resign
by Jon Swaine, The Guardian
Wednesday 11 March 2015 16.16 EDT
The embattled police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, is to resign a week after his department was accused of racial bias in a scathing report by the US government, an aide to the St Louis county executive told the Guardian on Wednesday.
The resignation of Jackson has long been anticipated after he was heavily criticised for his handling of the furore over a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old in Ferguson last year.
Residents were appalled that Jackson’s officers left the body of Michael Brown lying for more than four hours in the residential side-street where he had been shot dead by Darren Wilson on 9 August. Successive nights of protests followed Brown’s death.
The resignation was welcomed by protest groups and lawmakers critical of Jackson’s leadership. “This is long overdue,” said Antonio French, a St Louis alderman. “There were grounds to fire or ask for the resignation of Chief Jackson months ago.
“But the details in the Department of Justice’s report of how his department operated meant there was no way for him to remain in that position if the city is to move forward”.
Jackson, 58, is the sixth senior Ferguson official to lose his job since the Department of Justice last week sharply criticised the city’s criminal justice system. Investigators concluded that police and court authorities targeted black people disproportionately and frequently violated their constitutional rights.
John Shaw, the city manager, was removed from his job on Tuesday evening. His departure followed the resignation of municipal court judge Ronald J Brockmeyer, Brockmeyer’s court clerk, and two of Jackson’s senior commanders.
Jackson presided over a police force that was 94% white in a St Louis suburb whose population is two-thirds black. African American residents reported feeling badly alienated from the officers who aggressively policed their driving and daily lives. The Justice Department’s report blamed the community disintegration on the city’s aggressive policy of raising revenue through small court fines.
The police chief was named along with Shaw and Brockmeyer as one of the driving forces behind the revenue-generation policy.
Investigators found an email from Jackson to Shaw in March 2011 reporting that court revenue in the previous month was $179,862.50, which “beat our next biggest month in the last four years by over $17,000.” The city manager replied: “Wonderful!”
Racist emails unearthed by the federal investigators prompted the resignations of veteran officers Sergeant William Mudd and Captain Rick Henke, who was effectively Jackson’s second-in-command, and the firing of Mary Ann Twitty, the city’s court clerk.