ST. LOUIS (AP) – The interim police chief in Ferguson is leaving the post about two months earlier than expected, citing a desire to return to his family, city officials said Friday.
Andre Anderson, a 50-year-old black man with 25 years of law enforcement experience, was hired in July on a six-month appointment, after the St. Louis suburb’s police force came under fire over the fatal shooting of an unarmed, black 18-year-old in August last year.
City spokesman Jeff Small said Anderson submitted his resignation effective Dec. 2.
Anderson, who has previously expressed interest in becoming Ferguson’s permanent chief, declined an Associated Press request for an interview Friday.
In coming to Ferguson, Anderson left “a much higher paying job, children, and his wife and other family members behind,” and he feels he’s needed back home, Small said. Anderson will return to his job as commander of the police department in Glendale, Arizona, Small said.
Ferguson is still looking for a permanent chief. A new interim chief has not yet been named.
The former chief, Tom Jackson, resigned in March after a U.S. Department of Justice report criticized police and court practices in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. Both the Justice Department and a St. Louis County grand jury declined to prosecute Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the death. But the shooting helped spur the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Wilson resigned a year ago.
Mayor James Knowles III lauded Anderson’s “exceptional and innovative” work in Ferguson. He was credited with starting a Community Engagement Team, launching meetings with community members to discuss crime-fighting strategies, and implementing other outreach and transparency efforts.
Anderson said in a statement Friday that his top goal was to regain the trust of Ferguson residents.
“Many of our policing initiatives that have been implemented over the past few months will build a stronger relationship between the department and Ferguson residents,” he said.
In August, Ferguson officials defended Anderson after reports surfaced that he was suspended three times from the Glendale department during a period of less than one year in the late 1990s.
Personnel records showed that a 1996 suspension was the result of problems that occurred while Anderson served on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force, when he was found to be conducting personal business on city time and falsifying official documents. His records gave no reasons for two 1997 suspensions.
Earlier this week, a permanent city manager was hired to replace Ferguson’s interim city manager, Ed Beasley. Beasley was the former city manager in Glendale and recommended hiring Anderson as interim chief.