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Holder: 'Wholesale Change' Needed in Ferguson PD

Attorney General Eric Holder said at a forum on Wednesday that the need for "wholesale change" in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department was "pretty clear."
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Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the need for "wholesale change" in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department was "pretty clear."

But asked about reports that changes are coming in how the Ferguson force is organized, Holder declined to comment, citing the Justice Department's pattern and practice investigation of the police department. "I think it's pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate," Holder said at the Washington Ideas Forum, put on by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. "Exactly what the form of that change will be, I think, we'll wait until we complete our inquiry."

He also criticized leaks about the various investigations, saying that trying to shape public opinion about an ongoing investigation was inappropriate. "I've said I'm exasperated. That's a nice way of saying 'I'm mad,' because that's just not how things should be done." He added, "Whoever the sources of the leaks are needs to shut up."

Despite reports that he would be stepping down within the next few weeks, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told NBC News late Tuesday: "I have not been asked to resign, I have not been fired, and I will not be resigning next week. If I do resign, it will be my choice."

Jackson has been under fire from various sides ever since the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown but Ferguson PD Officer Darren Wilson. Jackson's handling of the initial investigation and subsequent unrest in the streets led to calls for his dismissal and caused Gov. Jay Nixon to send in state troopers. A grand jury decision on whether Wilson will be indicted in the shooting is expected to be released in the coming weeks.


— Pete Williams and Hasani Gittens