Ferguson’s interim police chief Andre Anderson has announced his resignation, effective Dec. 2, about two months before he was scheduled to leave.
Anderson, who served as Ferguson’s first Black chief of police, signed a six-month contract with the Ferguson Police Department at the end of July. At the time he had expressed a possible interest in taking over the position full time but was more focused on what he could do during the six months his contract allotted. His goal was to reunite the police with the community and to begin implementing much-needed changes in the city as suggested by a Department of Justice analysis of the city’s practices.
The DOJ released a report in March that concluded Black residents of Ferguson were disproportionately being targeted by police and ticketed and fined at significantly higher rates than whites in order to raise revenue for the city. This served as a catalyst for the resignation of former Chief Thomas Jackson, who left the job that same month. AJ Eickhoff, Jackson’s second-in-command, served as the first interim chief until Anderson was hired in July.
Another report, which came out in October, analyzed the police response to the protests last year and cited the police-community relations a “lack of understanding, appreciation, and application of creative problem solving as it relates to community policing.” Protests erupted in the city following the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was gunned down by former Officer Darren Wilson last August. These protests, and the way the police responded to them, further strained the relationship between citizens and police.
“My number one goal when I arrived in Ferguson was to regain the trust of residents and the Police Department,” Anderson said following the news of his resignation. “Many of our policing initiatives that have been implemented over the past few months will build a stronger relationship between the department of Ferguson and residents.”
According to Ferguson spokesman Jeff Small, Anderson resigned to return to his family, saying that Anderson “felt like it was time to get back home.”
“He didn’t come here expecting to stay on the job, he was expecting to stay for a short amount of time,” Jeff said. “Professionally, he has fulfilled many of the things he wanted to do and that the city hoped he could do. We respect his decision to go home and take care of his family.”
Despite his short time in the role, Anderson still managed to make several notable positive changes that will hopefully continue after he leaves his post. He created problem solving meetings that bring officers and members of the community together; a community engagement team; a walk and talk program, in which officers speak with and get to know business owners and other people in the areas they will be policing; and a faith based alliance, where religious leaders in the community work with each other to find ways to relieve the strain in the community. Anderson also implemented new leadership training and a community orientated training for the town’s police officers. In addition, he raised $600,000 from TASER International; this money will fund the department’s transparency efforts, including giving the police access to state-of-the-art body cameras and recording devices.
Mayor James Knowles III praised “the exceptional and innovative work Anderson has done for the City of Ferguson and our police department” and said that Anderson “has been a valuable member of our team.”
Prior to his arrival to Ferguson, Anderson served as a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., police department for 24 years. Upon his resignation, he will return to this position.
The city is now searching for a permanent police chief to replace Anderson.