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Ferguson, Missouri, Police Chief Thomas Jackson Resigns

The police chief is the latest in a string of city officials ousted in the wake of a Justice Department report that found a culture of racism.
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Ferguson, Missouri, Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned Wednesday, joining a string of city officials ousted in the wake of a Justice Department report that found a culture of racism in the police department and city offices.

"The city of Ferguson looks to being an example of how a community can move forward in the face of adversity," Mayor James Knowles III told reporters Wednesday evening.

Jackson's resignation — which the city said was a "mutual decision" — is effective March 19. Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff, the assistant chief, will take over as acting chief while Ferguson conducts a nationwide search for a replacement, the city said.

"I'm confident the city will pull through these trying times," Jackson told NBC News. "The people are committed to Ferguson."

Calling Jackson an "honorable man," Knowles said that the decision was difficult but that the chief took the initiative.

"After a lot of soul-searching ... he felt this was the best way forward, not only for the city but also for the men and women of the police department," Knowles said. "The way moving forward was with someone else, so he left."

Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned Monday and City Manager John Shaw resigned Tuesday after they were highlighted in the scathing report, which was commissioned after white police officer Darren Wilson, who has since resigned, shot and killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. Wilson wasn't charged in the shooting.

Two police officers were suspended and later resigned, and the city's top court clerk was fired.

Asked whether he, too, would resign, Knowles said, "Somebody has to be here to run the show."

Jackson came under sustained national criticism for his defense of his officers and his department's handling of protests after Brown's death. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon eventually stripped Ferguson police of oversight of security and put the State Patrol in charge.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger told KSDK that he has been meeting with Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and that county police are ready to step in to assist.