APD’s new police chief speaks to local business leaders

A little more than three hours after he was sworn in, the Asheville Police Department’s new chief William Anderson spoke about his next steps as chief at the Council of Independent Business Owners March 1 luncheon.

“For the next few weeks and months, if necessary, I will be doing a total evaluation to determine the current state of the police department, the community’s perception of the police department and how our officers believe the community perceives the work that they do,” Anderson said. “It’s important to know the relationship between the community and the police department because it helps gauge our performance and accomplish our goals.”

Before taking the job in Asheville, Anderson served as police chief in Elizabeth City and, most recently, Greenville, N.C. Before that, he served as police chief in Deland, Fla. However, the luncheon was focused on the present conditions of law enforcement and not Anderson’s past. Sheriff Van Duncan spoke at the lunch before Anderson. Duncan was involved in choosing the new police chief and spoke highly of him when he said Anderson has, “level five leadership.”

During his time behind the podium, Duncan reported that major crimes are down. He said 2,067 major crimes were reported in 2010 compared to 3,057 in 2001. He also noted daytime jail population has also declined. However, Duncan said that does not mean the sheriff’s office will not stop striving for improvements. He described law enforcement is like, “flying an airplane while you’re still building it.”

Anderson echoed this sentiment for APD when he said, “The police department is well-trained, educated, but there are still going to be challenges to identify. We need to identify what those challenges are and then move forward with what we’re trying to do.” To make sure the community and law enforcement work together effectively, Anderson told the crowd that he tries to have an open door with the public, not just internally.

After Anderson spoke, CIBO members asked a few questions to both Anderson and Duncan. Questions ranged from the status of a gun range, to speeding concerns in unincorporated areas of Buncombe County, to whether the APD will get a firing range.

One man, who owns downtown property, said he was very concerned with graffiti and wanted to know if Anderson had plans to tackle that issue. Anderson responded that when he first visited Asheville, he noticed the graffiti downtown. Though he said he is still looking into more information about graffiti and how to handle it, he commented that it is, “at the top of my list.”

Click below for aggregated tweets and photos via Storify from the March 1 luncheon

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