- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2020

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) - Carl Anderson, the soft-spoken investigator who became the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s first Black deputy in 1970, died on Sept. 8. He was 81.

Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said Anderson died at AnMed Health Medical Center just before 5:30 p.m.

“He was a pioneer, a trailblazer,” said Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns. “He did so much for the people of Anderson County.”

Anderson, who grew up on a farm near Pendleton, served in the Army, then got an electrical engineering job at the Sangamo Electric Company in Pickens. He worked there for about five years before then-Pendleton Mayor Jerry Sloan urged him to take a two-week leave to try to become a sheriff’s deputy.

The deputy job paid just $5,800, but it fed his soul, he said.

“I got satisfaction out of it. I could make a difference,” Anderson said in a 2016 interview. “I was never interested in the money. I haven’t gotten rich, but I’ve got enough to do what I want to do.”

Anderson started out as a road patrol deputy and worked his way up the ranks. When he retired in late 2016, he was chief deputy under then-sheriff John Skipper.

He was one of the Sheriff’s Office’s most dogged, thorough investigators and a respected supervisor, said Sheriff Chad McBride.

“Many of us at the Sheriff’s Office, including myself, worked for him over the years,” McBride said. “He was a great man to work for and fair in his supervision. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Anderson had advice for younger deputies.

“Nothing takes the place of wearing out shoes and knocking on doors,” Anderson said. “You knock on doors, it’s amazing what you’ll find out. People don’t like to call you, but if you ask them, you’ll find things out. I like to eyeball people, and you can tell things by their motions, their movements and their reactions.”

Maj. Darrell Hill, who has a three-decade career in law enforcement, credited Anderson for having a role in his success.

“As a young African-American male, I didn’t grow up seeing a whole lot of Blacks in law enforcement,” Hill said. “But Chief Anderson showed it could be done. He paved the way for people like me. He paved the way for a lot of us.”

Anderson became one of Hill’s most trusted mentors at work and also on a personal level. A longtime member of Mount Able Baptist Church in Pendleton, Anderson was also available for spiritual guidance, Hill said. And when Hill bought a house, he took Anderson along to help him inspect it and make sure it was a sound investment.

“Working with the chief, the one thing he told us over and over was, ‘Always feed everybody with the same spoon,’” Hill said. “He wanted us to be fair at all times to everyone. It didn’t matter if they were Black, white, man, woman, rich or poor. That’s what he taught, and that’s who he was.”

Anderson left the Sheriff’s Office to become a magistrate in 1989. He was made chief magistrate two years later and given a mandate by the local state delegation to reform how magistrates worked in the county.

He reorganized the magistrate system, making it more centralized rather than having several offices throughout the county. Anderson specialized in criminal matters while two other full-time magistrates handled traffic court and civil matters, and the part-time magistrates were required to take rotating shifts.

The system that he helped implement was still being used more than a decade later.

He later opened his own private-investigations firm. He returned to the Sheriff’s Office in 2008 to serve as then-Sheriff John Skipper’s chief deputy.

In a 46-year-career in law enforcement, Anderson handled some of his agency’s most high-profile cases. He worked a 1983 double murder case and knew the killer, Andy Smith, who had been in a Cub Scout troop his sister helped lead. Smith was executed in 1998.

More recently, he helped investigate the disappearance of baby Leonna Wright, who vanished from her family’s Pendleton apartment in 2015. Travis Jones, 38, of Townville was charged in this case just two months ago, in July. He is charged with homicide by child abuse, and the date of the offense, June 6, 2015, is the same day that Leonna disappeared. Jones’ brother, Donnie Roderick Jones, is charged with destroying human remains in the case.

In 2015, Anderson was named in a discrimination lawsuit filed by Nikki Carson, a former spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office and now the assistant chief for the Anderson Police Department. She said said in her lawsuit that she was demoted after reporting that Anderson told her she was being treated differently because she had “two strikes against her” as a Black woman. Anderson County settled the lawsuit with Carson in 2017.

Funeral arrangements for Anderson have not yet been announced. He was a faithful member of Mt. Able Baptist Church, where he volunteered to drive a van so he could pick up children at their homes to make sure they made it to Bible school, Hill said.

Anderson retired from the Sheriff’s Office in December 2016 after years working in a building that bore his name. In 2011, the Anderson County Law Enforcement Center was dedicated in his honor.

It still bears a plaque that reads:

“The Anderson County Law Enforcement Center is named as a lasting tribute honoring Carl Anderson for his selfless dedication to duty, relentless pursuit of justice and passion to serve and protect the residents of Anderson County.”

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