The white police officer who resigned almost four months after fatally shooting a black teen, setting off months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., was not asked to leave — but “it’s best that we continue to move on as a community,” Mayor James Knowles said Sunday.
Knowles said Darren Wilson, who was earning about $45,000 a year, was given no severance when he resigned Saturday, effective immediately. Wilson, 28, had been on paid administrative leave since shooting Michael Brown, 18, following a brief confrontation on a Ferguson street Aug. 9.
A St. Louis County grand jury declined Nov. 24 to indict Wilson on any charges in Brown’s death, sparking more protests.
Knowles said at a news conference Sunday that the city of 21,000 will fund police academy scholarships aimed at increasing minority representation on the city’s force of more than 50 members. Recipients will be required to work on the Ferguson force for at least two years after graduation. All but a handful of Ferguson officers are white; the city is predominantly black.
Knowles, who is white, said the city will increase its stipend — to $300 per month, up from $100 — for officers living in the city, and will start a police explorer program in schools to give students a chance to meet and interact with police officers in a friendly setting.
“We are committed to rebuilding the city and to once again become a thriving community for economic development and residential stability,” Knowles said.
Wilson said threats directed at the department fueled concern that staying on the force might have “put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow.”
“It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process,” Wilson said in his resignation letter.
SOURCE: John Bacon