Officials: Ferguson police chief expected to step down

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Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Thomas Jackson

(CNN – Oct. 28, 2014)– The police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, 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 discussions ongoing between local, state and federal officials.

Under the proposed plan, after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson leaves, city leadership would ask the St. Louis County police chief to take over management of Ferguson’s police force.

The announcement could come as soon as next week. It would be one step in what local officials hope will help reduce tensions in the city as the public awaits a decision on whether the St. Louis County grand jury will bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Jackson said Tuesday he is not being pushed out.

“Nobody in my chain of command has asked me to resign, nor have I been terminated,” he said on the phone to CNN.

Jackson had faced criticism over his department’s handling of the Brown shooting and the protests in its aftermath.

Last month, weeks after the Justice Department announced it was investigating Ferguson police, Jackson told CNN he would not step down despite calls for his ouster.

Asked Tuesday whether there is a plan in place for the police chief to step down, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles responded “no.”

When asked whether the federal government was pressuring the city to force out the police chief, he told CNN: “People have been saying that for months, I mean for him to step down. But we’ve stood by him this entire time. So there is no change on that.”

In an interview with CNN on September 29, Jackson said of the job and the fallout over the Brown shooting that “this is mine, and I’m taking ownership of it.”

The Justice Department is conducting a pattern and practice inquiry of the Ferguson police. That complicates plans expressed by some officials who want to dissolve the entire Ferguson Police Department and turn over law enforcement to county police.

In an interview with CNN last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was looking at the leadership of the Police Department as part of its ongoing investigation of the department’s practices.

“We have an ongoing — having a practice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department. And we’re looking at a whole variety of things, including the leadership of that department, the practices that the department engages in, the nature of the interaction between the department and the community that it is supposed to serve,” Holder said. “So I think it’s a little premature for me at this point to comment on the leadership of the Ferguson Police Department. That is certainly something that we are looking at.”