Skip to content
Nation & World
Link copied to clipboard

Ferguson police chief still on job despite report

In the face of federal criticism, he has survived. A meeting is planned in two weeks.

ST. LOUIS - Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was still on the job Friday, two days after a government report blasted his beleaguered department for years of racial profiling, and the mayor refused to speculate about the chief's future, saying his role was not to "just chop heads."

Meanwhile, three Ferguson employees implicated in racist e-mails exposed by that report are now gone from their jobs, the mayor said. One was identified as a city court clerk.

Calls for Jackson's removal were renewed again this week after the Justice Department cleared Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson officer who shot Michael Brown, of federal civil-rights charges in the death of the black 18-year-old.

A second report released simultaneously found patterns of racial profiling, bigotry, and profit-driven law enforcement and court practices in the St. Louis suburb that has come to represent the tension between minorities and police nationwide.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told reporters Friday that the federal government will "use all the power that we have to change the situation" in Ferguson, including possibly dismantling the police force.

"If that's what's necessary, we're prepared to do that," Holder said while accompanying President Obama on a trip to South Carolina.

Asked about Jackson in an interview with the Associated Press, Mayor James Knowles 3d said only: "He's still the chief."

Knowles said city leaders are evaluating the Justice Department report "line by line" before deciding on reforms. His focus now is on understanding the report, then moving forward with whatever changes are needed.

"I'm not here to just chop heads," Knowles said. "We have to evaluate everything in the report, pick out what are the systemic issues and what are the things we can fix."

Jackson did not respond to interview requests Friday but has repeatedly said he would not step down.

Ferguson city leaders will meet with Justice Department officials in about two weeks and provide a plan for improving the police force and the municipal court system, Knowles said.

"They want to hear what we will do," Knowles said. "We're going to hopefully work out some sort of agreement and we'll move forward.

"We've got to come up with solutions now," Knowles said.

The report uncovered racist emails from several city employees, including some that belittled black residents or President Barack Obama. Knowles said three employees responsible for the emails ended their employment with the city on Thursday. He declined to say if they were fired or resigned and would not provide their names or titles.