Ferguson police chief hit with claims of fraud, abuse

Interim Ferguson Police Chief Andre Anderson (L) shakes hands with participants during a march of solidarity on West Florissant Avenue, August 8, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. © Michael B. Thomas
As Ferguson’s interim police chief works to calm the troubled Missouri city, reporters have dug up details from his personnel files that raise questions about his integrity and character. The city says the charges are much ado about nothing.

Andre Anderson is on a six-month sabbatical from the Glendale Police Department in Arizona, with a mission to shepherd Ferguson through the anniversary of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by a police officer, and reform the department a federal probe has accused of systemic racism. He worked the streets over the weekend, urging protesters to stay calm and police to be patient.

According to the Vocativ news site, however, Anderson has a checkered personnel record, including a string of suspensions, a reprimand for falsifying official documents, and a restraining order over charges of physical abuse.

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Records Vocativ obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request describe a rocky start for Anderson’s police career, including jobs at the Arizona Department of Corrections, a nine-month stint at the Phoenix Police Department, and seven months in the nearby suburb of Tolleson, before joining the Glendale PD.

Anderson’s work in Glendale, where he stayed for the next 24 years, has met with accolades: He received a Police Officer of the Year award in 1994, for example. However, Vocativ also found a protective order granted to a woman who said Anderson physically abused her. No criminal charges were filed in the case, and the order was rescinded in about six weeks.

“On 29 July 1996, Andre C. Anderson struck me in the face and it caused severe headaches, swelling, and broken blood vessels around my lower eye.” – court documents

The documents also show a string of three suspensions without pay in less than a year: two days in December of 1996, eight days in July and August of 1997, and two days in September of 1997. The December 1996 suspension appears to be related to undercover work with a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force, according to a review by his supervisor. Sergeant David Donald upbraided Anderson for “conducting personal business on city time and falsifying official documents,” but added that “even with the problems you experienced you did an excellent job in your undercover activities.”

Vocativ sought insight from Dave Lind, a former assistant chief of police in the Arizona towns of Chandler and Tempe.

“People make mistakes. Bottom line,” Lind said. “But three suspensions in a year is a problem… at that point, as an officer, you have to ask yourself if this work just isn’t for you—assuming a supervisor doesn’t make that decision for you.”

Responding to an inquiry about the falsified records, a spokesman for the city of Ferguson said that “Chief Anderson provided information on a mileage report in error, not out of an intentional, malicious action.”

As for the allegations that Anderson had struck a woman, the allegations were “more than 15 years old, were unfounded … and thus never led to criminal charges being filed,” said the Ferguson spokesman.

Anderson is not the only Glendale official on loan to Ferguson. The city’s interim manager, Ed Beasley, served as Glendale city manager from 2002 to 2012, and was Anderson’s direct supervisor at one point. Beasley retired among allegations of cronyism and poor management, Vocativ noted. Both Beasley and Anderson are African-American.