APD Chief Chris Bailey resigns; felony charges surface

Asheville Police Department Chief Chris Bailey
OVER AND OUT: Police Chief Chris Bailey will resign his post after serving less than two months. Photo courtesy of the City of Asheville

Less than 45 days after beginning his position as the head of the Asheville Police Department, Chief Chris Bailey has announced his resignation from the force, citing “personal reasons.” Bailey moved to Asheville in June from Indianapolis, where he previously served as the deputy chief of criminal investigations for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“I appreciate the opportunity and confidence the City Manager and selection committee had in me to lead the great women and men of the Asheville Police Department,” Bailey said in a Sept. 11 press release from the city. “I cannot say enough great things about my experience here. The support I have received from the police department, city management and community has been incredible. It has been heartbreaking for me to come to this decision after being embraced by so many.”

Bailey’s resignation will take effect on Friday, Sept. 27, with Robert C. White to serve as interim chief beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1, according to the press release. Currently retired, White has previously held the police chief role in Denver, Louisville, Ky., and Greensboro.

The announcement comes after social media reports that Bailey would quit in light of an investigation by the N.C. Department of Justice. Chad Nesbitt of SKYline News alleged on Sept. 10 that the DOJ’s Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission found that Bailey had been charged with a felony and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor during his time in Indianapolis, a history that Nesbitt said had been overlooked by city leaders. 

Asheville officials acknowledged that Bailey had been “involved in an incident that resulted in a misdemeanor” but denied that the charge was tied to his resignation. Details about the incident, according to the city’s press release, had been “voluntarily shared by the chief at the beginning of the interview process.” The press release also noted that Bailey had “an exemplary record in his service as a law enforcement officer.”

A July 10, 2004, story published in The Indianapolis Star details how Bailey was arrested and charged with residential entry and intimidation — both felony charges — as well as two counts of battery, both misdemeanors. According to the newspaper, Bailey allegedly punched a male friend of his estranged wife and threatened his life while displaying a handgun. 

The Star article notes that Bailey was placed on administrative duty with the IMPD and subjected to an internal investigation after the incident. He then continued to serve with the department, climbing the ranks to deputy chief; a Sept. 11 story from Indy Star says that Bailey hopes to return to the agency.

In a Sept. 11 email to Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell, April Burgess-Johnson, executive director for Asheville-based domestic violence agency Helpmate, said she felt “deeply disappointed” in the city’s appointment of Bailey despite the incident.

If Bailey “had written a bad check, bought a beer when he was 18 or ran over his neighbor’s trash can, I would worry much less about those infractions which could be a correctable and temporary error in judgment,” Burgess-Johnson wrote. “However, domestic violence is a class of crime that tells us much about a person’s character and has been shown to be quite predictive of future actions including capacity to misuse power and violence in other settings.”

On Sept. 13, Campbell shared her emailed response to Burgess-Johnson with Xpress. While the city manager agreed that domestic violence is “without question, a serious problem,” she stood by her decision to hire Bailey based on his more recent job performance in Indianapolis.

“I am a staunch believer in second chances. And from his track record of promotions, it appears that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department also had high confidence in Chris Bailey’s ability to perform his duties and demonstrate leadership with high integrity,” Campbell wrote. “It is unfortunate that his decision to respond to the needs of his family has been overshadowed by the unfortunate circumstances that occurred in his past.”

Campbell, who took office Dec. 3, was tasked with replacing former Chief Tammy Hooper after the chief announced her resignation on Nov. 7. That move came after the publication of body camera footage showing former APD officer Chris Hickman beating Asheville resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush.

Campbell tapped Bailey after conducting a search early this year, which included two community input meetings, an online survey garnering 228 responses and street teams that engaged residents in various Asheville neighborhoods. Campbell also hired the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based consultancy that specializes in police research and management services, to organize the search and provide guidance to the city for $35,000

According to the city’s press release, the same firm will be used to recruit Bailey’s replacement. The city expects to have the position filled by January 2020. 

“While this news is unfortunate, we continue to be committed to hiring a police chief who demonstrates the ability to meaningfully connect with the community and fellow police officers,” Campbell said in the press release. “I hate to see Chris go but I respect his decision.”

Updated at 5:08 on Sept. 13 to include comments from April Burgess-Johnson and Debra Campbell.

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15 thoughts on “APD Chief Chris Bailey resigns; felony charges surface

  1. bsummers

    The good ol’ boy network at the APD will try to drive out anyone who is not promoted from within. They would rather have chaos and divisiveness than admit that the department needs to change. Four chiefs in eight years? Yikes. People like Chad want to blame the City leadership, because it’s entertaining (for them), but four chiefs in a row? You can’t blame just them, and you can’t blame just the City leadership. A big part of the problem is the culture at APD.

    • Lulz

      Remember way back when some of the cops got busted for running a prostitution ring on Haywood Road. The names were never released and the matter was handled internally. Wonder if any of them are still there?

      In the end, city leaders are accountable. Not as as a matter of politics, but one of having the final word on everything from hiring to spending. There’s a lack of due diligence by many at city hall.

    • Christopher Pratt

      Sadly, fear bsummers is correct. Under the circumstances, City Council placed him in an untenable position for Asheville.

    • Dick Berner

      Wow, you can’t blame city officials ~ unreal..
      Yes you can unless you want to look the other way!!
      Gezzzzeee

      • bsummers

        If you look again, you’ll see I said you can’t blame just them.

    • Joe

      You’re not making any sense. The culture at APD remains BECAUSE the city refuses to make the tough calls and demand change. Instead the city just hands over every budget increase they ask for and the city becomes more and more unlivable. You most definitely CAN and SHOULD blame APD and the city’s corrupt leadership and the public for not electing leaders who will do right by them. Chris Hickman was a known racist, the evidence room debacle under former Captain Tim Splain was never fully/truthfully explained to the public, 4 chiefs in 8 years– the list of APD/city screw-ups is endless.

      • bsummers

        I don’t disagree, other than the City hired a couple of chiefs who promised to shake things up – Williams and Hooper, and they both got driven out in part by a recalcitrant rank and file. And the City has limited options on dealing with bad cops. Capt. Mark Byrd apparently lied about the Chris Hickman incident, so he was fired by the City. The Civil Service Board overturned it, saying that he was bad, just not “firing” bad. Capt. Stony Gonce was fired over that affair as well. Chief Hooper fired both of them, but one looks like he’s coming back in spite of it. I know that they are trying, but they are boxed in by state laws, a powerful police union, and an entrenched political opposition that cheerfully turns issues around policing into just another partisan mud wrestling match.

        I’ve often been a critic of the City, but on this issue I think they’re not getting a fair shake.

        • K Smith

          Williams? I think you mean Anderson? I know, I know. They come and go so quickly.

          • bsummers

            D’oh! Thanks – you’re right. It’s William Anderson.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      When have they ever hired a chief from within? Not lately…They would be wise to do so. Morale would be boosted if a local leader were chosen. This is the City Manager, Debra Campbell’s biggest hiring decision and she failed. Will she redeem herself ? Time will tell.

  2. Angel Gonzales

    It seems like Asheville has deep roots of corruption… I’m new to the area and all I have read and hear citizens talk about is corruption from stealing money, to bad policing etc.dangerous mix… also sad 😔. I’ve already expressed to my partner maybe it’s time to pack up and move elsewhere.. these actions were very similar to what was happening in a Pennsylvania town I came from.

    • bsummers

      Just a word of caution – a whole lot of the talk you refer to is from a small minority of highly partisan Asheville-haters who have made it their business to tear down anyone from the other end of the spectrum from them. And you’ll notice that the ones doing the majority of the ugly talk do it anonymously. So quite a lot (but not all – Wanda Green fiasco for example) of the accusations are just made up.

      It’s part of the dynamic that actually makes Asheville a really interesting place – it’s always been a pretty progressive place in a conservative part of the state. I would suggest if you can tune them out, Asheville is still a good place to live.

  3. Rob

    While there are clearly officers more qualified than the outgoing police chief, you cannot hire from the inside when a police department has a track record like APD has. You can hire local though, if any locals would apply. That said, this guy never had a chance. This is not a job for someone who has no actual police chief experience, let alone someone without police chief’s experience from another region of the country. I didn’t understand the hire. He was at an extreme disadvantage.

  4. Mike R.

    In my opinion, this was a very poor hiring decision by the new City Manager Campbell. Period.
    After everything that has gone down in Asheville in the past couple of years, we needed a squeaky clean candidate; certainly not someone that had a potential felony arrest on his record!
    What the heck was she thinking?

  5. Robin

    I’ve said it here before; Asheville leaders are either terrible managers who can’t retain staff, or they are horrible at identifying and hiring talent. Quality managers don’t go through the staff like the current City managers have. Based on my interaction with the City, it’s a quite a bit of both. Over 20 senior managers departed, from nearly every City department, tells the tale.

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