Ferguson, Missouri looks outside for new interim police chief

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2015 9:50 PM

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - Ferguson, Missouri, plans to name on Wednesday a new interim chief to lead its police department, the city's mayor said on Tuesday, after accusations by the U.S. Justice Department of widespread racial bias in its policing.

The interim chief will be a police commander from Glendale, Arizona, a municipality from which Ferguson has already hired interim city manager Ed Beasley, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles confirmed the planned hiring of Andre Anderson, 50, as interim chief. He will be the second person to hold that role since Chief Thomas Jackson resigned in March, days after the release of the federal report.

"He is extremely well-qualified," Knowles told Reuters in a phone interview. "He will bring us a fresh perspective coming from outside the St. Louis region."

Knowles said it was not easy to find someone to lead the department, which has been under national scrutiny since the fatal police shooting last August of an unarmed African-American teenager.

"We're bringing someone in who has some expertise and who will help us," he said.

The announcement comes just ahead of the Aug. 9 anniversary of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by white officer Darren Wilson, which set off sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb.

A grand jury declined in November to charge Wilson in Brown's death, and Wilson resigned from the department. But anger over Brown's death and other police killings around the United States have led to ongoing protests in many U.S. cities.

Ferguson's current interim police chief, Al Eickhoff, will remain with the department, Knowles said. The force has a roster of 45 officers but is budgeted for 55, Knowles said. Eickhoff joined the department in 2014 as a deputy to Jackson.

Ferguson's police chief, city manager, municipal court judge and three police department employees left their jobs or were fired after the Justice Department's report detailing biases in the city's policing and courts.

The city is still seeking a city manager, who will be expected to make a decision about a permanent police chief, Knowles said.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Eric Walsh)