Can newly appointed interim police chief help heal fractured Ferguson?

Andre Anderson, an African-American commander from Glendale, Ariz., has been named interim police chief in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jeff Roberson/AP
Andre Anderson speaks during a news conference announcing him as the interim police chief of the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday, in Ferguson, Mo. Chief Anderson becomes the second interim chief since Police Chief Thomas Jackson stepped down in March.

Weeks before the one-year anniversary of a fatal shooting that prompted months of sometimes-violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., the city is naming a new interim chief to lead its police department: Andre Anderson, an African-American police commander from Glendale, Arizona.

The hiring follows accusations by the US Justice Department of widespread racial bias in Ferguson’s police force. The investigation followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A grand jury declined to indict Mr. Wilson in relation to the shooting.

Since the backlash against Mr. Brown’s death came into the national spotlight last fall, several investigations have revealed racially biased policing policies in the St. Louis suburb. 

ArchCity Defenders, a legal defense group, found that Ferguson police stopped, ticketed, and arrested a disproportionate number of black people, even though statistics showed that white people were more likely to be carrying contraband. 

Another report by The Washington Post’s Radley Balko described how Ferguson and many other surrounding cities appeared to be using municipal courts to essentially shake down poor, black residents for general revenue.

Over the course of the past year, the Ferguson city government and police department have undergone massive changes in both structure and personnel. Mr. Anderson will be the second interim chief to hold the position since the resignation of then-police Chief Thomas Jackson. Ferguson's current interim police chief, Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff, will remain with the department.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said it wasn’t easy finding a new interim chief, and that Anderson is "extremely well-qualified” for the job. 

"He will bring us a fresh perspective coming from outside the St. Louis region,” Mayor Knowles told Reuters. "We're bringing someone in who has some expertise and who will help us.” 

During his 24 years at the Glendale Police Department, Anderson mentored and coached at-risk youth at a local boxing gym, according to the Arizona Republic.

Anderson has said that his first priority is to address justice department reforms. 

Ferguson's previous police chief, city manager, municipal court judge, and three police department employees all resigned or were fired after the Justice Department released a report detailing racial biases in the city's policing and courts. The city is still seeking a city manager, who will make a decision regarding a permanent police chief, according to Knowles.

This report includes material from Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.