- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Ferguson city officials on Friday defended interim Police Chief Andre Anderson after an online report raised concerns about his record as an officer in Glendale, Arizona.

The news website Vocativ.com, citing personnel records obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, first reported that Anderson was suspended three times from the Glendale Police Department during a period of less than one year in the late 1990s. Vocativ also reported that Anderson was served with an order of protection in 1996 by a woman who claimed he struck her in the face.

The Associated Press on Friday also obtained Anderson’s personnel file through an FOIA request.

Anderson declined an interview request. But in a statement, the city of Ferguson defended him.

“The allegations regarding Chief Anderson allegedly striking a woman are more than 15 years old, were unfounded and thus never led to criminal charges being filed,” the city statement read.

The statement said the city typically does not comment on personnel issues. It did, however, address one matter from Anderson’s Glendale files - a finding that he falsified documents.

“In that instance, Chief Anderson provided information on a mileage report in error, not out of an intentional, malicious action,” the city said.

Anderson, who is on leave from the Arizona department while he works in Ferguson in suburban St. Louis, has been promoted several times in Glendale and his records show generally favorable, sometimes glowing, reviews. But he was suspended without pay for two days in December 1996, eight days in July and August 1997, and two days in September 1997.

No reasons were cited for the 1997 suspensions. The 1996 suspension was the result of problems that occurred while Anderson served on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force. A performance review showed that he was found to be conducting personal business on city time and falsifying official documents. It wasn’t clear if the falsification was the mileage issue cited by Ferguson officials.

Anderson, a 50-year-old black man with 25 years of law enforcement experience, was hired in July to lead the roughly 50-member police force in Ferguson, which has been under fire since an unarmed, black 18-year-old was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Ferguson officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, but the shooting helped spur the national “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Wilson resigned in November.

The shooting also led to a Justice Department report in March citing racial profiling among Ferguson police and a municipal court system that often targeted blacks, who make up about two-thirds of Ferguson’s 21,000 residents.

Within days of that report, Ferguson’s city manager, municipal court judge and police chief resigned. The city hired an interim city manager, Ed Beasley, in June. Beasley was Glendale’s city manager from 2002 to 2012.

The statement from the city of Ferguson said Anderson was hired following a process that included a background investigation “independent of the City Manager.”

Anderson was visible during protests in Ferguson around the anniversary of Brown’s death. But on Monday, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency that gave county Police Chief Jon Belmar control of security in Ferguson after violence erupted during some demonstrations. The state of emergency was lifted Friday.

Anderson is still a member of Glendale’s department. City officials in the Phoenix suburb have said that Anderson is using vacation time, then unpaid leave through January.

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