Ferguson interim police chief steps down, to return to Arizona position | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson interim police chief steps down, to return to Arizona position

Nov 20, 2015

Ferguson’s interim police chief is resigning after a little more than four months on the job.

Andre Anderson, a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., police department, was appointed to the department’s top post in July for a six-month contract. He became the first black police chief in the history of the city, which is two-thirds African American.

Anderson replaced assistant chief Al Eickhoff, who took over after chief Thomas Jackson stepped down following a scathing Justice Department report that found Ferguson officers repeatedly violated the civil rights of black residents.

The resignation announcement comes on the last day of work for interim city manager Ed Beasley, who hired Anderson. Earlier this week, Ferguson named former assistant city manager De'Carlon Seewood as its new, permanent city manager.

In a statement, Anderson said many community-policing initiatives started in the last few months will “build a stronger relationship between the department and Ferguson residents.” Recently, the city held its first meeting with residents and other community stakeholders to create a neighborhood policing plan.

According to the statement, Anderson:

-Implemented Problem Solving Meetings, where officers and community members utilize policing strategies to solve crimes.

-Implemented a Community Engagement Team.

-Implemented the Walk and Talk Program, where police officers openly converse with business owners and community members in to build stronger relationships.

-Created the Faith Based Alliance where local chaplains and pastors work together to ease tension in the community.

-Implemented Basic Leadership and Community Oriented Police Training.

-Secured $600,000 in donated funding from TASER International which will support the Ferguson Police Department’s transparency efforts. The initiative will allow officers to participate in new and innovative technology methods, have access to advanced body cameras and electronic record keeping systems and provide officers with options to utilize less lethal ways to address potential encounters.

When he was hired, Anderson said he would only be able to get a good start on, but not complete, the reforms suggested in the Justice Department's pattern and practice report during his six-month tenure. But at the time, he said he hoped he would be a candidate for the permanent chief.

"But right now, I'll be honest with you, I'm not going to focus on whether I'm the candidate of the future," he said in July. "My focus is on building trust in the community right now."

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III praised Anderson for his "exceptional and innovative work," according to a statement. 

Anderson’s last day is December 2, and he will return to his post with the Glendale department. Ferguson will now begin a nationwide search for a permanent chief.

Rachel Lippmann and Camille Phillips contributed to this story.