It saddens my heart to know that William Anderson, the first African-American chief of police of Asheville, is retiring.
How did we get to this point? In my professional opinion, the city leadership has allowed two police officers to continue to drive a false narrative, week after week, through the news media (WLOS-TV and the Citizen-Times newspaper) without disciplinary action. Racist practices and racism within the Asheville Police Department have consciously and systematically been allowed. This is now the culture and climate of the department, where officers have refused to be held accountable, change and take direction from a leader of color.
I am very disappointed in city leaders in Asheville who have allowed the rhetoric and behavior of these two disgruntled lieutenants to cause all of this unnecessary drama with the assistance of outside help. These two officers have been allowed to hold the city hostage, like terrorists, as if to dare anyone to take action against them.
Based on the recent video charade on WLOS, Asheville police Lt. Bill Wilke must be fired. He has lost all credibility and cannot be trusted to lead in any capacity within the Police Department.
As a retired senior noncommissioned officer with 21 years of active Army service, I am appalled at his blatant disrespect for the office of chief of police. His true character is being revealed through the media coverage of his negative attitude toward the chief. Wilke, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, has brought discredit upon the Army Reserve officers corps.
Lt. Mark Byrd, as a leader within the department, should have addressed the radar gun issue once he recognized that there were calibration discrepancies with the guns. That’s what leaders do: They fix the problems. But he and others made it personal and had an ax to grind with the chief. He actions were unprofessional.
Dr. Keith A. Ogden, pastor,
Hill Street Baptist Church
Editor’s note: Ogden also is president of Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Asheville & Buncombe County.