The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, told NBC News Thursday that "we've done an excellent job," but also admitted there was room for improvement ahead of a federal investigation into the city's embattled police department. "We are a good, solid community," police chief Thomas Jackson said a day after news broke that the Department of Justice intends to launch a civil rights investigation into his entire department. But, he added, "We can be better and we're willing to be."
The Justice Department investigation, expected to be formally announced Thursday afternoon, follows last month's fatal officer shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, but will look into the conduct of the whole Ferguson Police Department over the span of several years. "It's not for me to tell them that they shouldn't do it," Jackson said of the civil rights probe. "There's a desire for questions to be answered about this case and I understand that." He said the police intend to cooperate with the investigation "100 percent."
The chief said he has had a "good dialogue" with residents of Ferguson recently. Jackson said most residents say that "our relationship with the community is excellent," but the department is willing to make improvements. "Obviously, there's some problems. We're going to look into those and come up with some solutions as a community."
Separately, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told NBC News he wasn't concerned about the Justice Department investigation, but said he's "absolutely interested in wanting to know the truth of what's been going on. I feel that we've been making extremely positive strides in making sure that we have policies and procedures in place that not only protect and serve our citizens, but also protect their civil rights."
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— Ron Allen and Elizabeth Chuck