Asheville Police Chief Anderson resigns amid controversy

Amid a range of escalating controversies, an independent audit, and a restructuring of the department, Asheville Police Chief William Anderson announced Nov. 14 that he will retire.

Last month, 44 officers — nearly a quarter of the APD’s force — signed a petition demanding changes in leadership at the department. However, Asheville City Council members continued to express confidence in Anderson’s leadership and the oversight of City Manager Gary Jackson, who functions as the chief’s boss.

“One of my primary goals during my tenure has been to ensure APD was responsive to the concerns of our citizenry,” Anderson says in his written statement, sent to the press announcing his retirement. “It is my hope that that goal was achieved and will continue to be a priority in the future. The Asheville Police Department is made up of dedicated and deserving men and women and I wish them Godspeed as they continue to keep our community safe.”

Anderson says his last day on the job will be Dec. 31. Before then, according to a city press release (see below), city officials “will announce an interim chief to lead the department” as they conduct a national search for a replacement.

In the city’s press release, Mayor Esther Manheimer is quoted as saying, “I sincerely wish [Anderson] all the best in retirement.” She adds: “I am proud of the work Chief Anderson accomplished in his time with the Asheville Police Department to significantly strengthen relationships in the community and improve diversity within the department.”

Here’s the full announcement from Anderson via a written statement from the Asheville Police Department:

Asheville – After 37 years of public service as a law enforcement officer, with 15 of those as a Chief of Police, and after discussions with family and friends, I have informed City Manager Gary Jackson of my intent to retire as Chief of Police for the City of Asheville effective Wednesday, December 31, 2014, at 5:00 p.m.

One of my primary goals during my tenure has been to ensure APD was responsive to the concerns of our citizenry.  It is my hope that that goal was achieved and will continue to be a priority in the future.  The Asheville Police Department is made up of dedicated and deserving men and women and I wish them Godspeed as they continue to keep our community safe.

UPDATE: About 15 minutes after emailing the above statement from Anderson, the city of Asheville sent out this more detailed press release:

ASHEVILLE – Chief William Anderson today announced his retirement from the Asheville police department, effective December 31.

Chief Anderson retires with 37 years of public service, including 8 years serving his country in the United States Coast Guard Reserves and over 15 years as a police chief.  He has been recognized as a leader in the state as a former regional director for the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police and was appointed to the State Emergency Response Commission in 2011, by Governor Beverly Perdue.

During Anderson’s tenure, the department significantly improved the operations of the evidence room and established the public housing unit which among other things continues to build strong relationships between youth and police officers.  He led the department in the development of important plans aimed at community-based solutions for a safe and vibrant city.  Under his watch, the department put into place a comprehensive three-year strategic operating plan designed to improve operations and communications within the force.

“The Asheville Police Department and the City of Asheville made significant strides under William Anderson’s leadership,” said City Manager Gary Jackson.  “He never shied away from leading his department in finding solutions to tough problems.  Above all, he led the way for major change in the department.”

Implementation of the strategic operating plan designed under Anderson’s leadership will continue as the City works through the process of finding Anderson’s successor.

Mayor Esther Manheimer shared, “I am proud of the work Chief Anderson accomplished in his time with the Asheville Police Department to significantly strengthen relationships in the community and improve diversity within the department.  After a career dedicated to honorable public service, I sincerely wish him all the best in retirement.”

The City of Asheville will conduct a national search for Anderson’s replacement and will announce an interim chief to lead the department before Anderson’s departure.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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47 thoughts on “Asheville Police Chief Anderson resigns amid controversy

  1. guest reader

    This witch hunt was clearly race based. Anyone who thinks the police department will automatically get better because the Black police chief is no longer leading this mostly white and very dysfunctional police department is kidding themselves. APD is a national level embarrassment for law enforcement.

    • guest

      There we go… It didn’t take long before someone played the race card.

    • Michelle Provencher

      So, because he’s black he shouldn’t be held to the same standards as any other chief? We should not expect him to tell the truth? I live with Mike Mason, the WLOS reporter and our mixed race son. I’ve seen the hundreds of emails the chief sent to his cronies trying to cover up these messes. I’ve heard the conversations with Byrd talking about the Chiefs disregard for the African American community. Stay tuned folks. He didn’t retire because he was innocent.

      • guest

        Thank you! I knew there had to be someone who saw this for what it really is. I am sick and tired of people who use the race card every time a black person is on the hot seat.

    • RR formerly "guest"

      You do know that a harpy’s job is to take evildoers to Tartarus? By your comment then you agree Anderson is guilty of something…

      • bsummers

        The common usage is of people who vindictively cause others suffering for selfish reasons.

        Good ahead and joke – this witch hunt has been a stain on this City. All of you who hounded Chief Anderson out of his job should be ashamed.

        • RR formerly "guest"

          I don’t know where you got your common usage from. I have always seen it used for annoying women. The man is dirty.

          • bsummers

            “Dirty”? You’re accusing him of being corrupt now? Provide some evidence of this, please. Or are you just basing that on Tim Moffitt’s absurd request to the AG that he investigate some unnamed “corruption” at the APD?

          • RR

            When a chief tries to get a subordinate to change a police report to benefit his kin…that IS corruption.

  2. Patrick Burns

    It is a sad day when a good person is forced out by a witch hunt.

  3. Jay Brown

    It’s really a shame to loose a good police chief of this caliber. I am very sorry to see him go. A lot of APD officers are very good, but also a large number are backward and discriminatory and don’t want checks and balances. I hope the investigation uncovers the true problems and those creating it, and those officers are let go. I would love to see a professional department here.

  4. guest

    Searching outside the state for a replacement chief is a big mistake. I am sure there are many North Carolinian officers who are qualified for the job.

  5. Jonathan Wainscott

    Pay no attention to the vitae. Performance is irrelevant. This was a witch hunt. Nevermind that Bobby Medford and Bill Hogan were covered by the same “racist” media and forced out of their jobs. Yeah, that good-ole-boy network that protects the white guys put Bobby Medford in PRISON. Now, Chief Anderson may be a good man, but he was a terrible Chief of Police.

    • RR

      By your own words you say “he was a terrible Chief of Police” then how is this wrong?

      • Jonathan Wainscott

        I was being sarcastic when I said this was a witch hunt. His vitae says it all. Chief Anderson is responsible for his own reputation. City Council could prop him all they wanted, but his fall was inevitable and it’s a shame that City Council was more concerned about defending their mistakes than taking responsibility for them and making corrective actions.

        Fortunately, when the short-list for the new Chief is made public, the citizens will be doing all the digging into their past performances that City Council should have done before signing off on Anderson.

        • RR

          Ok thank you for the clarification. I was on serious mode and did not initially get the sarcasm. I agree with you the city council should have kicked him to the curb a long time ago. Now with that said, it is obvious, is time to make a change to the city governing body. This series of events only points to the lack of integrity in the city council and the city manager. They too need to go.

        • richard boucher

          Jonathan is right on. Also impressed by the professional reporting of the citizen times on this issue, especially John Boyle. The chief, whose career was already tainted, was hired by an Asheville city council whose priority was diversity on the force – a noble goal. But when it comes to diversity or the protection of the folks, the latter must trump. That is where the council and city manager failed their sworn duty.

        • Jim

          City council doesn’t need to take responsibility for their actions. They have a huge base of blind idiots that will elect them over and over again. Art museum in a public building that negotiates naming rights to a public plaza? No big deal. Washing graffiti off of privately owned buildings with taxpayer money who’s owners are worth millions? Look the other way. Waste water washing off sidewalks that goes into the street drains that residents are getting charged via an EXTRA TAX that goes to everything but the water system? Why question that? Pay 375K for a wall to match the area in a posh part of town? No big deal. Allow the biggest land holders in the city to be shielded from paying property taxes because of being non profit or historic, why they’ll just raise property taxes for everyone else. And it never changes because the entrenched cronies are never held to any standards by the one’s who keep voting them in.

          • jonathan wainscott

            Well, I don’t think Chris Pelly or Jan Davis are going to run again. We’re only 6 months or so from the beginning of the next City Council election. Ignore Cecil. He’s a distraction. You want change in City Council? Well, keep your focus on Marc Hunt. Get him out and we’ll have 3 freshmen members voted in. Plus, Cecil has 3 more years to get himself thrown out and he’s ahead of schedule making an ass of himself, sooo, change is possible..

  6. guest reader

    Who you are sure determines how you see the world. Most white people were livid from the get go when Chief Anderson got this job and this kind of salary. We still live in a world where race matters and determines how you are viewed and evaluated. Anderson was under a microscope because of race. And the trouble makers at ADP are still there. Further, the city council did not hire Anderson, the city manager did, based on a search conducted by Developmental Associates, a Chapel Hill consulting firm that has helped hired department heads all over the state. Anderson was a capable vetted police chief. His demise, again, goes back to race and intolerance by APD staff and the Asheville community. As long as known trouble makers are employed by the city and the community remains intolerant, APD will continue to be an embarrassment. Anderson got a raw deal.

    • bsummers

      I don’t necessarily agree with “Most white people were livid from the get go when Chief Anderson got this job and this kind of salary.”

      I for one, and I think a fair number of other “white people”, were very happy to see a qualified African-American get this job – not just because of some “affirmative action” sentiment, as the harpies will say. Rather, I saw an entrenched good-ol-boy culture in the APD that needed to be shaken up, and Chief Anderson, with his experience trying to shake up the culture of the Greenville NC police dept., seemed like a good choice.

      I’m sorry that he ran up against such a concerted pushback from inside the APD, in cahoots with those on the outside who seek to tear down Asheville on any front they can. This wasn’t just a racial thing, but I believe that certainly played a part.

      • Jim

        You must have a lot of white guilt in you. I tell you what, why don’t you move to Lee Walker Heights where at least you can identify with Mercedes Benz SUVs while they’re doing drivebys. Hypocrites who talk the talk yet won’t dare leave their isolated world but call out others as racist is getting to be really old. Defending Anderson who’s own son likes to break the law and is shielded by daddy should be a HUGE RED FLAG. But not to the likes of you of course. Get out of your bubble and start realizing that equality means accountability AS WELL and deflecting it because someone is black or a woman simply means that they never will be treated as equals.

        • bsummers

          why don’t you move to Lee Walker Heights where at least you can identify with Mercedes Benz SUVs while they’re doing drivebys

          Wow. Nonsense. Angry, angry nonsense. Because I don’t live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, I’m not allowed to comment, unless I’m joining in on the Anderson pile-on?

          I’ll repeat – I think this has had just as much to do with the general attack on Asheville for political reasons, as it has to do with race. None of the vitriol spread around here has dissuaded me from that.

          • Jim

            This has nothing to do with race except of course with the accusations you bring up that are idiotic. I don’t judge people on race but I do with ACTIONS. You OTOH are willing to give some free passes no matter their actions based solely on the diversity lies you believe in. Like I said, get out more often. And start holding everyone up to the same standards or no standards at all. Because double standards and looking the other way are why so many are failing.

  7. Jonathan Wainscott

    I guess WLOS, The Citizen Times, and the Mountain Xpress all had a hand in chasing William Anderson out of Florida and Greenville, NC too. The Sect of Cecil sure has few loonies.

    • bsummers

      What do would you suppose would be the default attitude of any press in any of these cities to a black police chief trying to shake up the status quo in their respective southern police depts? My guess is – ‘check which way the winds are blowing’.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve spoken to staffers at the Greenville city govt. – and what I’ve heard was similar pushback against a strong African-American chief from the entrenched power structure, backed up by a compliant media. Surprised, Jonathan, that you wouldn’t consider that.

      • guest reader

        Can’t you people be honest for goodness sake. This really more racial and about a good ole boy culture than anything else. And yes, WLOS and the citizens times newspaper hovered around the PD working disgruntled sources repeatedly to make this with the chief be a timed series of soap opera like events to bring him down . WLOS is bush league. And most daily print newspapers are dying and losing money. So both were desperate for a race based controversy and for conflict. Asheville and its PD have a hex on them. Until they do right, they will continue to flail and fail. Now that this job is open again, maybe this poor excuse for a city manager will think out of the box and consider a proven local area applicant; and spare me the accreditation background please. That designation has not helped this police dept. one bit. APD has been a slow burning tire fire in spite of its accreditation.

      • What an odd action for a “strong African-American chief” to take — running away when to going gets tough.

        How about we conduct a thorough investigation based on facts and evidence and let the chips fall where they may? That would be the non-racial thing to do. Hmm?

        • Jim

          Nothing strong about Anderson. He can’t control his own son much less an entire police department. Better start looking into how and why his family were coddled by the cronies in council and given cushy jobs within local government. All par for these guys. Nepotism stinks and leads to corruption.

  8. Big Al

    “He never shied away from leading his department in finding solutions to tough problems. Above all, he led the way for major change in the department.”

    Too bad most of those tough problems were of his own making.

    Major change? Only if you mean for the worst. A good chief would have focused on the force first and let its’ performance speak to the public. Instead, Anderson pandered to the city officials and public activists while treating his own officers like the enemy.

    Too bad the same incompetent city council will hire the next chief. Expect another unwanted, incompetent, partisan, token hack. CoA does not want a good top cop to interfere with its’ drugs, booze, anarchy and graffitti (art!).

  9. Meiling Dai

    The Police Benevolent Association (PBA) should be allowed to provide input and to be briefed on efforts to replace
    Chief Anderson. Asheville is one of the few cities in the United States that DOES NOT ALLOW police associations to participate in deciding who should replace a chief of police. This seems incredulous to me. The City Council does not have a background in policing, but the PBA does. During Chief Anderson’s time in office, so much has happened (i.e. uncertified radar guns,, etc.). It is obvious that hiring a competent and proven police chief is the highest priority not only for the citizens of Asheville who rely on APD’s protection, but also for the morale and fair treatment of officers.

    • guest reader

      Mel you must be a member of the PBA. The last thing the city needs to do is give these mostly line level, narrow minded warrior types a voice in hiring a police chief. This is North Carolina. Unions have no voice here. they are nothing more than mutual admiration clubs. The city had good police chief who happened to be black in Anderson. This illegitimate PBA played a large part into Anderson’s demise. And after this prejudiced which hunt, what capable police executive with options would want to come here? And what candidate who has never been a police chief in North Carolina would qualify to step into this dysfunctional environment and be able to succeed? Keep the PBA out of this process. Look for an experienced in state police chief that might want to move up to a department the size of Asheville is what needs to be done.

    • Big Al

      City Council’s highest priority is hiring another token minority, a partisan, and an incompetent yes-man who will keep APD from effectively protecting citizens and assets while pandering to the council, the vagrants, the boozers (who keep BEER CITY afloat!), the pot-heads and the anarchists. Expect the council’s “national search” to focus on a non-white or woman who was recently “retired” from a city under suspicious circumstances, all the while local activists cry out “it was because he/she was a (fill in the blank:minority/woman/etc.)”.

      The word Justice has different meanings for us than for CoA.

      • bsummers

        Why don’t you just say it? “We’ll only accept a white southern good-ol-boy. Anyone else will get the same treatment Williams got.”

        Yes by all means, let’s hire another Bill Hogan, or Will Annarino, two previous APD chiefs who had absolutely nothing go wrong during their tenures, and who created the smooth-running trouble-free APD that Williams destroyed in just a couple of years…

        Hey, maybe Bobby Medford is looking for a job!

        • bsummers

          Oops – obviously, I meant ‘Anderson’ instead of ‘Williams’.

  10. Holly Jones announced yesterday that Chief Anderson is exceptional at domestic violence enforcement.

    This explains a great deal as domestic violence enforcement is hard, dangerous, demoralizing, frustrating police work, which could easily involve forced overtime and make it hard to cover shifts. It is also more important than releasing the Moral Monday surveillance video, so we may have to rush to Anderson’s defense before the video is released. I only hope Holly is not too late.

  11. If Holly is too late, then I nominate April Burgess-Johnson of Helpmate to replace Anderson as Asheville Police Chief.

  12. Dionysis

    When a vocal supporter of the anti-union Tim Moffitt starts advocating more union involvement in picking their own boss, then Hell must have actually frozen over. Perhaps Meiling Dai will remember this quote from Mr. Mofitt:

    “Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, said right-to-work states such as North Carolina have been under siege from unions, who are working in conjunction with the NLRB. “We see it coming,” he said. “We feel that this is a responsible way to protect our citizens – that should be able to have the right to vote by secret ballot …”

    http://www.ncnn.com/edit-news/6943-anti-union-amendment-surfaces-as-crossover-deadline-approaches

  13. Meiling Dai

    I support Rep. Moffitt’s accomplishments during his term in office. However, I am an Independent, have opinions of my
    own. and resent being labelled as being anti-union. The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association (PBA) was created to protect officers’ rights. In this case,
    I think their concerns are justified.

    • Dionysis

      You weren’t labelled anything; only noted that you are a “vocal supporter” of someone who is not a friend of unions. If you see any label directed at you, point it out. If you are no longer a strong Moffitt supporter, state it.

  14. Meiling Dai

    I meant to say: “I resent being labelled as being PRO-UNION. I am not for or against unions. It all depends
    on circumstances and if a union is needed to protect the rights of workers such as police officers.
    Of course, a government agency or private corporation might resent the influence of unions because
    it is a threat to their power. Thinking independently and not being dictated to by a party is paramount
    for me, as I imagine it is for most people.

      • bsummers

        I don’t actually live in Asheville. There! I’ve run rings round you logically!

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