Just a few weeks before the community marks the one-year anniversary of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, officials in Ferguson, Missouri, have named Andre Anderson as interim police chief of the small St. Louis suburb. On Wednesday, Mayor James Knowles and interim city manager Ed Beasley announced that Anderson would begin implementing department reforms prescribed by top federal law enforcement officials.
“I am truly humbled and honored that the city has selected me for this position,” said Anderson, 50, during a Wednesday news conference. “There’s a lot of work to be done. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do the work.”
Anderson, who is African-American, was hired from the police department in Glendale, Arizona, and will take a six-month leave from his role as commander of criminal investigations to assume the role in Ferguson. He joined the ranks of a handful of African-American police chiefs and commissioners in majority-black cities, such as Atlanta, New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee.
Ferguson hires new interim police chief Andre Anderson pic.twitter.com/gpiuKlOJ8g
— Stephanie De La Cruz (@StephanieKGUN) July 22, 2015
The interim chief said his first “plan of action” was to build trust within the community of 21,000 that is two-thirds African-American. Anderson also wanted to emphasize community-oriented policing practices that have been part of a yearlong national dialogue on law enforcement. A report released in March from a U.S. Department of Justice probe into Ferguson police practices -- which found that officers routinely targeted black residents for traffic stops and tickets -- “will serve as a template” for departmental reforms, Anderson said.
He added that he also planned to recruit new officers to the force “who can exemplify respect and cultural awareness” on the job. “I am going to ask members of the community to assist me because we cannot do this without you,” Anderson said.
Anderson replaced former Deputy Chief Al Eickhoff, who had been interim chief since former Chief Tom Jackson resigned in the wake of unrest over the death of Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed African-American who was killed Aug. 9, 2014. Jackson had an annual salary of about $95,000, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Anderson has 24 years of experience in law enforcement, 16 of which the new chief said were spent in leadership. “He is known nationally for his ability to lead,” Beasley, the African-American city manager, said of Anderson. “He will help us to face challenges in the future.”
As a rookie police officer, Anderson mentored and was a boxing coach for at-risk youth, according to a profile published by the Arizona Republic in 1999. A native of Philadelphia, Anderson was a standout boxer in the U.S. Army and won two professional fights in Arizona. But injuries from a car accident ended his boxing career, the Republic story said.
Anderson holds a master’s degree in education and leadership from Northern Arizona University, the Post-Dispatch reported. He worked as a prison guard before joining the Glendale Police Department, according to an online resume.