Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has a message for critics that are calling for his job – ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ The embattled department head has heard the repeated cries for his ouster, and despite widespread media outlets reporting Jackson would be stepping down, Officer.com, citing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Oct. 30, said the rumors are not true.
“It’s absolutely not true,” Jackson said. “Nobody has asked me to resign, nor have I been fired. If I do resign, it will be my own choice.”
Jackson’s words mirror the same message that he told CNN back on Sept. 29. Jackson said last month that he plans to “see this through.” CNN, among other sites, reported on Oct. 29 that Jackson is “expected to step down as part of the effort by city officials to reform the Police Department, according to government officials familiar with the ongoing discussions between local, state and federal officials.” CNN did say however that both Jackson and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles both denied the claims.
“This is mine,” Jackson said in Sept., referring to the rancorous controversy over 18-year-old Michael Brown’s shooting death back on August 9, “and I’m taking ownership of it.” Speaking of those who have called for him to cede his position and clear out, Jackson said: “I’ve talked to a lot of people who have initially called for that and then changed their mind after having meetings and discussions about moving forward. Realistically, I’m going to stay here and see this through.”
Chief Jackson, a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department before taking over in Ferguson four years ago, drew criticism almost immediately following the shooting of Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. The Associated Press called the Ferguson Police Department’s release of information “infrequent” and “erratic,” and Jackson was roundly condemned for what was seen as heavy-handed tactics in dealing with looters, rioters and protestors in the weeks following Brown’s death.
In late September, Jackson issued this video apology, directed to the family of slain teenager Michael Brown, in which he expressed regret for, among other things, the fact that Brown’s body was left in the street for a reported four hours after he was shot by Wilson.
“I want to say this to the Brown family: No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling. I’m truly sorry for the loss of your son. I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street. The time that it took involved very important work on the part of investigators who were trying to collect evidence and gain a true picture of what happened that day. But it was just too long, and I’m truly sorry for that.”
Drawing on a distinction between rioters and looters, Jackson apologized to “any peaceful protester” who felt he did not “do enough to protect their constitutional right” to assemble. Jackson said he’s also “aware of the pain and feeling of mistrust felt by some in the African American community and the police department,” saying that the “city belongs to all of us and we’re all part of this community.”
Jackson appeared later that day to a group outside of the police station, again attempting to placate the crowd and appearing flustered that his outreach efforts were not having any effect. The DOJ began a civil rights investigation in September into the Ferguson department’s practices. Amnesty International on Oct. 24 published a scathing denunciation of the “lethal force in Brown’s death, racial discrimination and excessive use of police force, imposition of restrictions on the rights to protest, intimidation of protesters, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and long range acoustic devices, restrictions imposed on the media covering the protests, and lack of accountability for law enforcement policing protests.”
A Grand Jury hearing was initiated in late August and has yet to determine whether Officer Wilson should be indicted. Sound off below. What’s your take on Chief Thomas Jackson: Should be lose his job?