FOREST PARK — Forest Park Capt. Jason Armstrong has been named police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, according to multiple sources.
The city of Ferguson’s amended tentative agenda for its June 25 meeting included “Police Chief Appointment“ on the consent agenda.
KSDK-TV reports that Armstrong was approved in a 6-1 vote. As in Forest Park, some Ferguson residents were upset that their acting chief was not appointed permanently to the position, objecting to an outsider coming in.
However, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said Armstrong “is going to be great, going to be transformational for us, hopefully be inspiring, bringing new life and new leadership into our police department, which is needed.“
Armstrong served as Forest Park interim chief after the city fired longtime Chief L. Dwayne Hobbs over accusations the department had arrested primarily African American suspects for marijuana possession under 1 ounce. The News analyzed arrest records that indicated 80.2 to 86.5% of those arrested for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana between 2015 and 2018 were African-American. About 37.7% of Forest Park residents are African-American, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Hobbs denied the department engaged in racial profiling, pointing to Georgia POST training requirements. Major Chris Matson pointed out that “Hispanic“ may include people of African descent and that FPPD does not arrest only Forest Park residents.
Armstrong, who has been with FPPD for more than 17 years, was the first African-American to head the department in October 2018. Following criticism by some councilmembers, Armstrong was replaced by Major Jamie Reynolds in December 2018, who served as interim chief until the city hired Nathaniel Clark as permanent chief.
Armstrong was instrumental in FPPD’s “Cops in Barbershops“ program, which brought officers into local barber shops for open dialogue with community members about matters like traffic stops.
Armstrong is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and has a master’s in public safety administration from Columbus State University. He also is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and served as chairman of the board of directors for the Walking in Authority Teen Council.
Ferguson has been ground zero in the national debate on police-community relations since a police officer fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, setting off a series of protests and sparking debate on racial profiling by police. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice placed the city under a consent decree.