- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson resigned Wednesday, a week after a federal report that found a widespread pattern of abuse and civil rights violations at his department.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this great city and to serve with all of you,” Chief Jackson wrote in his brief resignation letter. “I will continue to assist the city in anyway I can in my capacity as [a] private citizen.”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles announced that Chief Jackson’s last day will be March 19, and that the chief will receive a city severance package with health insurance for one year. He described it as a “mutual decision” between Chief Jackson and the city.

“It is the city council’s goal to be transparent as we strive to once again become a vibrant community,” Mr. Knowles said at a press conference Wednesday evening.

He added that the city “looks to become an example of how a community can move forward in the face of adversity.”

The Justice Department last week released a 100-page report detailing the results of a monthslong investigation into the Ferguson Police Department. Federal officials decided not to bring any charges against Darren Wilson, the officer at the center of the controversy in the death of teenager Michael Brown.

But government investigators slammed the Ferguson Police Department, saying the agency had engaged in a “pattern of police bias and excessive force.”

Investigators found a history of racist behavior by the agency, including excessive use of Tasers and police dogs against black citizens.

There were numerous civil rights violations uncovered as well, including officers who made arrests without a probable cause, pulled over black citizens for traffic stops without a suspicion of wrongdoing and charged people with petty crimes in an attempt to generate revenue from fees and fines.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called the report “searing” and said Ferguson law enforcement must reform. He threatened federal action if they don’t, up to and including shutting down the agency.

The city announced it would begin a nationwide search for a new police chief, a position that is likely to be one of the most closely scrutinized civil service positions in the nation during the coming months.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Vanita Gupta, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said the department wants a “court-enforceable agreement” to address Ferguson’s “unconstitutional practices,” regardless of who holds the city’s leadership posts.

Mr. Jackson is the sixth Ferguson official to step down following the Justice Department’s report.

City Manager John Shaw, stepped down Tuesday, writing in his own resignation letter that he had “done everything in my power to work with countless groups to bring about positive change and strengthen our community.”

Two police officers stepped down after it was revealed they were among the individuals who had sent a series of racist e-mails that included comparing President Obama to a chimpanzee. A city clerk also involved in the scandal was fired last week.

On Monday, Ferguson’s municipal court judge, Ronald Brockmeyer, stepped down after he was explicitly named in the report as supporting an abusive system that imposed unfair fees on citizens.

Mr. Knowles said Wednesday that he would not resign, despite calls for him to do so.

• Phillip Swarts can be reached at pswarts@washingtontimes.com.

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