The chief, Thomas Jackson, who took over the FPD five years ago, becomes the latest high-ranking city official to fall in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report that accused the city of using its municipal court and police force as moneymaking tools that routinely violated constitutional rights and disproportionately targeted blacks.
The municipal judge and city manager, as well as the top court clerk and two police supervisors, have stepped down in the wake of the DOJ report. Chief Jackson will receive his severance pay and health insurance for a year. Must be nice. So he screwed up and was responsible for racial discrimination that eventually led to shooting an unarmed man, but he gets his severance pay and health insurance for a year! I wonder what he would have received if he performed well… a Cadillac?
Should the FPD be dissolved? Four of Ferguson’s 54 police officers are black. Ferguson officials must still decide whether they will reach a settlement with DOJ or go to court to challenge some of the reforms that federal officials have requested be made to the police department and municipal court.
Since the shooting, Jackson has been under intense scrutiny. He said in the early days of unrest that he felt his department had a good relationship with the community. But many used the killing as a springboard to raise larger issues of rampant discriminatory policing and judicial actions.
Last year, after the Missouri State Police took charge of the city’s policing during the sometimes violent demonstrations, and calm returned briefly to the city’s streets, [a video] appeared to show Mr. Brown robbing a convenience store shortly before he was killed. That revelation reignited tensions, and new clashes between police and protesters ended with clouds of tear-gas.
About a month and a half after the shooting, Chief Jackson tried to calm tensions when he released a videotaped apology to Mr. Brown’s family. That is like putting a band-aid over a life-threatening wound.
He attempted to join demonstrators in the streets, but only worsened tensions. “Sorry” just doesn’t cut it! In the months following Mr. Brown’s death, local and federal officials tried to get Jackson to step aside, but he staunchly refused until now.
The chief’s reputation was dealt another blow in DOJ’s report, which said that Jackson sought to meet revenue goals through increased ticketing. Data cited in the report said that black motorists and pedestrians received a disproportionately high number of those tickets.
“City and police leadership pressure officers to write citations, independent of any public safety need, and rely on citation
productivity to fund the City budget,” the report said. The Justice Department also said that Officer Wilson broke no federal crimes in the shooting.
In an email from March 2010, the year Chief Jackson took his post, Jeffrey Blume, the city’s finance director, wrote to the chief that “unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections next year.
What are your thoughts?” according to the report.
The chief responded that fines would increase once the city hired more officers and that he was considering a different shift schedule that would put more officers on the street to increase traffic enforcement. The following year, when Jackson reported to John Shaw, then the city manager, that court revenue for February 2011 was more than $179,000, the highest monthly total in four years, Mr. Shaw responded in an email, “Wonderful!” the DOJ report said. But then another one bites the dust.
DOJ’s report blamed Shaw for overseeing the financially driven policies that led to widespread discrimination and questionable
conduct by the police and the courts here, and he has agreed to resign. The announcement came during a City Council meeting on Tuesday March 10, 2015, about a week after the scathing Justice Department report was released.
“The manager, John Shaw, 39, had held the post since 2007. As Ferguson’s chief executive, he was the city’s most powerful official.
But then the empire crumbled. Mr. Shaw, who has not spoken publicly since the report was issued, offered a staunch defense in a page-long letter to the community that city officials distributed during the Council meeting.
“And while I certainly respect the work that the D.O.J. 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,” (As Nixon said, ‘I am not a crook!’) he wrote. “Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false.” Right, But he’ll step down anyway.
Once the DOJ report came out, the city fired its Municipal Court clerk for having sent racist emails that were outlined in the report; two police supervisors later resigned for also having sent racist emails.
A few days later, the municipal judge, Ronald J. Brockmeyer, resigned as the state moved all of Ferguson’s cases to a state appellate judge.
And on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, the City Council voted 7-0 in favor of a “mutual separation” with Mr. Shaw, who as manager was the city’s chief executive for eight years.
Well, I had hoped that the architect of the internally driven, discriminatory and morally reprehensible policies would be removed. It’s about time!