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Ferguson’s New Police Chief Wants Community Policing

(Compiled from press and news reports)

FERGUSON, Mo.

Only weeks after Ferguson Mayor James Knowles barely survived a bid to force a recall election, the city has a new police chief. The recall petition fell 27 votes short.

Andre Anderson, 50, will be the new interim police chief. Anderson was police commander in Glendale, Ariz., where Ferguson’s current interim city manager, Ed Beasely, worked, according to USA Today. In presenting the new interim police chief, the mayor also announced that the city, a suburb of St. Louis, would be getting body cameras for its police officers.

The new police chief said his first goal is “simply to build trust within the community, to develop community policing in this area.”

Anderson told reporters he grew up in South Philadelphia in an area with demographics similar to Ferguson. He said he will get out in the community and be highly visible, while working with the officers to build positive relationships with the residents of Ferguson.

Anderson said that he would be using the Justice Department’s recommendations “to cultivate relationships that we know and hope will reshape our direction in the city of Ferguson” and that he would be implementing programs of procedural and constitutional justice training, de-escalation training and “bias awareness training.”

The previous police chief, Tom Jackson, along with the city manager and municipal judge were forced out of their jobs earlier this year as the Justice Department published a report that found the city’s police and municipal court had engaged in systemic patterns of misconduct that disproportionately affected the city’s majority African-American community.

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“I’m hoping we can bridge some gaps, because right now we got to focus on how to bring people together,” Mayor Knowles said in a telephone interview in news reports.

During the recall effort, the group Ground Level Support gathered 1,787 valid signatures from registered voters in the city who backed the petition calling for the recall and 1,549 more that were thrown out by the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners for a variety of reasons. The group needed 1,814 valid signatures, or 15 percent of registered voters to trigger the recall.

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