FERGUSON — The City Council decided to hire a new police chief Tuesday night, choosing Jason P. Armstrong, a captain in Georgia’s Forest Park Police Department near Atlanta.
City leaders, including Mayor James Knowles III, said they took into account town hall meetings, along with feedback from several area police chiefs, in an effort to hire the best candidate.
“This is the outcome of that input,” Knowles said.
The interim city manager, Jeffrey Blume, made the recommendation to hire Armstrong over the interim chief, Frank McCall. Both are African-American.
Blume said council members had decided unanimously before the meeting to pick Armstrong. However, on Tuesday night, Third Ward Councilwoman Fran Griffin disagreed and said it was not unanimous, though hers was the only dissent in a roll call vote.
About 30 people attended the meeting. News of the decision had leaked beforehand, and several spoke during the meeting in favor of McCall, noting there has been a lot of turnover in the department.
One of them was Annette Jenkins, 58, who volunteers with the department as a chaplain. “When everybody else walked out, he was still here,” she said. Jenkins said the decision was a “slap in the face” to both McCall and Ferguson residents.
Knowles said he hoped McCall would stay with the department in a leadership role.
McCall, who came to Ferguson from neighboring Berkeley, was named interim chief in October after the resignation of Delrish Moss.
Moss, who quit to take care of his ailing mother in Florida, joined Ferguson in 2016 from Miami, where he had been a homicide detective and served as spokesman for the Miami Police Department.
Moss took over after the short tenures of two interim chiefs — first Al Eickhoff, then Andre Anderson — who filled in after the resignation of Tom Jackson.
Jackson, who led the department from March 2010 until March 2015, was chief when Michael Brown was fatally shot by one of his officers. Jackson, whose ouster became a priority for protesters after the Brown shooting, said he quit to allow the city “to move forward without any distractions.”