After months of unrest, Ferguson, Mo. is attempting to build community relations with another Glendale transplant.
After hiring former Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley as the new interim city manager of Ferguson, Beasley reached back into Glendale to hire Andre Anderson, 50, as the new interim police chief.
“I believe that I am the right person for this particular job,” Anderson said during his introduction news conference. “I have a responsibility to get into the community to demonstrate that I can be a positive role model.”
Anderson, while he is the interim police chief in Ferguson, is on administrative leave from July 20 through January 30, 2016. During this time, Anderson is using all of his paid vacation time and then will be on leave without pay for the remainder of the time he is interim. He will remain on non-paid leave after that until he is released from the interim position or is hired full time by Ferguson. The vacation pay is pay Anderson accrued during his year with the City of Glendale.
He joins Beasley, former city manager of Glendale from 2002 to 2012, who was named Ferguson interim city manager June 9.
Addressing the people of Ferguson, Anderson said, “We cannot do this without you. I believe that together, we can forge better relationships.”
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles and Beasley announced the appointment of Anderson July 22 at the Ferguson Community Center.
“The City of Ferguson and our police department have endured a tremendous amount of distrust during the past nine months,” Knowles said in a news release. “We understand that it will take time to once again gain the trust of everyone.”
African-Americans make up nearly 70 percent of the city’s population but only about 3 percent of Ferguson’s police department.
Anderson is a commander with the Glendale Police Department assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division where he leads the activity of a number of detectives from homicide, fraud and computer forensics and family violence as well as all undercover operations to include joint task force agents assigned to the DEA, FBI and U.S. Marshals office.
Anderson oversaw departments that showed significant crime reductions along with building sustainable community partnerships with organizations that included University of Phoenix Stadium (Arizona Cardinals), Westgate Entertainment District, Gila River Arena (Arizona Coyotes), the Glendale Municipal Airport, Luke Air Force Base, the Neighborhood Response Unit, Downtown Neighborhood Response Unit, Community Response Unit (property crimes detectives), Community Action Team and more than 100 uniformed patrol officers.
“He has literally done it all in the City of Glendale,” said Glendale Police Chief Debora Black. “I believe that he is very capable and exceptionally qualified and he went through a pretty significant vetting process before he was selected for this assignment. I believe he will do an incredible job in Ferguson.”
Anderson’s appointment comes four months after the U.S. Justice Department released a report saying it found a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against African-Americans by Ferguson police and municipal courts.
The Department of Justice report had found that Ferguson’s officers saw residents as “sources of revenue,” a practice that federal investigators said disproportionately targeted African-Americans.
The report also found evidence of racist jokes sent by Ferguson police and court officials. Ferguson is a city of 21,000 that is 67 percent African-American.
The Justice Department launched its investigation after a white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager, in August 2014, setting off months of sometimes violent street protests in the St. Louis suburb.
Both a grand jury and the Justice Department declined to bring charges against Wilson, who said he shot Brown in self-defense. Wilson left the force after the shooting.
Anderson said he hopes he will be a candidate to take over the department full-time. But he said his focus will be working on community policing in the six-month interim window that he has.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work,” Anderson said.
“He is extremely well-qualified,” Knowles said. “He will bring us a fresh perspective coming from outside the St. Louis region.”