Armstrong on Ferguson: "They gave me an opportunity"

Former Forest Park Capt. Jason Armstrong and members of the Forest Park Police Department in dialogue with community members at Solo’s Barber Shop.

FOREST PARK — In an exclusive interview with the Clayton News, newly appointed Ferguson Police Chief Jason Armstrong confirmed that he has resigned from the Forest Park Police Department and that the reason he applied for the job was because “they gave me an opportunity.”

Armstrong, who served briefly as interim police chief of Forest Park, said he begins his new job July 8.

“After much thought and prayer with my family and loved ones, my family and I truly believe this is the direction God is leading us in,” Armstrong said.

“Anyone trying to accomplish something in life, no matter what it is, often has to rely on others to see something in them to give them an opportunity. Ferguson gave me the opportunity to come interview for the position and now the opportunity to come up there and do the work.”

Armstrong noted that Ferguson and Forest Park have a lot in common “as far as city size, population size, demographics of the community, geographic location in relation to a metropolitan area and also crime statistics.”

However, “The major difference is that Ferguson is under a DOJ (Department of Justice) consent decree. That will require a great deal of energy and effort to ensure we meet the requirements of the agreement.”

Armstrong said he plans to start “with an internal assessment of the police department to get an understanding of how they operate on a day-to-day basis to identify the areas that require immediate attention.”

As a proponent of community policing, Armstrong said, “Of course I will be out in the community, meeting with residents and stakeholders to hear their thoughts and ideas about how they feel the department is operating and what we can do to improve the services we provide.”

He also is aware that some Ferguson residents are concerned about his not being from the area, a complaint similar to that of some Forest Park residents when Chief Nathaniel Clark was chosen for that position.

“My biggest challenge going up there is that I’m an outsider to that community. I am aware that some people are not happy that the internal candidate was not selected for the position, and I understand and respect that,” he said. “I only ask that people give me a fair chance to show what I can do and realize that success for the police department is success for the entire community.”

Armstrong has a message for the city he leaves behind:

“I would just like to say thank you to the Forest Park Police Department and the Forest Park community for embracing me for the last 18 years and allowing me to grow as a person while serving the community. Forest Park will always hold a special place in my heart.”

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