APD Police lieutenant’s grievance against Anderson dismissed on technicality

Photo from The Asheville Blade

(Asheville Citizen-Times) Chief William Anderson downplayed concerns about putting new police officers on the street without the supervision of trainers, according to a lieutenant’s testimony in a Civil Service Board hearing. The city on Wednesday won its motion to dismiss Lt. Mark Byrd’s grievance, but on the grounds he did not meet the filing deadline in the matter. Byrd’s attorney, John Hunter, disagreed with the decision and said Byrd would consider appealing to state Superior Court. Byrd filed a grievance after he was transferred from special operations in patrol to logistics in administration. He said Anderson retaliated against him with the transfer after he raised his concerns about staffing, including the use of field training officers. “Placing rookie cops with veteran officers,” Byrd read from the email Anderson wrote during a hearing on Wednesday. “Wow. What a novel idea.” Byrd said the note, which he felt was derogatory, linked to a news story about the practice in New York. He said he was also later told he was wrong raising the concern internally and questioning the chief. Once in his new position in logistics, Byrd raised concerns about lapsed radar certifications that resulted in hundreds of traffic tickets being dismissed. He also flagged problems in evidence handling. The city asked the board to dismiss his grievance, saying it can’t be heard because he did not file it on time. None of the central concerns of the grievance or the merits of it were addressed.

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Police group wants overhaul before new chief is hired

(Asheville Citizen-Times)  The city should overhaul the police department before hiring a new chief, according to a group that represents officers across the state. The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association also wants input on hiring a replacement for outgoing Chief William Anderson, its executive director, John Midgette, said Saturday. Mayor Esther Manheimer on Saturday said City Manager Gary Jackson would appoint an interim chief and start the process of finding a new chief. The city has said it will search nationally. Anderson, 58, announced his Dec. 31 retirement Friday after weeks of turmoil. His decision comes as state regulators conduct a preliminary inquiry into standards at the department.  His decision to leave came about a month after a quarter of the city’s officers signed a petition saying they had no confidence in the department’s leaders. A Citizen-Times investigation into the department found allegations of on-the-job retaliation, an increase in officer resignations and administrative errors that led to officers using expired radar guns. Hundreds of traffic cases have been dismissed.

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Debating Forest Service plan at Newsmakers forum

(Mountain XPress) The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests may be our shared, public lands. But what do we do with them? How do we preserve and protect them — and for what uses? These were the questions posed at the first of Carolina Public Press’s Newsmakers series, held Thursday, Nov. 13. The lively discussion focused on the U.S. Forest Service’s draft plan for 1 million acres of public lands in Western North Carolina — and demonstrated just how passionate area residents are about the public lands that are part of the region’s great outdoors.

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Mills River fire chief presses council on affordable housing

(Hendersonville Times News) Chief Rick Livingston of the Mills River Fire Department attended Thursday’s Town Council meeting to make a plea for council members to expedite a decision on whether to create areas within the community that would accommodate higher-density, affordable housing. Mayor Larry Freeman said the town’s planning board began discussing the topic of affordable housing more than a year ago and has put in a lot of time, holding public input sessions and looking at different options. The chief said that over the last 28 months, the department has lost 14 of its volunteers, including both of his sons, largely because they cannot afford to live in Mills River.

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Fire chief wades into murky Asheville Police Department waters

(Asheville Citizen-Times) Scott Burnette would probably rather be standing in a trout stream. Instead, the Asheville fire chief is wading into much murkier waters. Burnette is about to be waist-deep — maybe deeper — in a planned reform of the Asheville Police Department, which has become a force torn by internal conflict. Pulled off his duties as chief, Burnette will make a short trip next door to the police department, also housed in the the Public Safety Building. City Manager Gary Jackson has asked him to be strategic operations plan project facilitator for the police department. He’ll be working with Police Chief William Anderson and a consultant to pinpoint and address the root causes of discontent.

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City may add $425,000 in Federal Funds to affordable housing effort

(Asheville Citizen-Times) The city may boost the number of low-cost homes in the region with a $425,000 infusion of federal money. The City Council Tuesday is set to vote on allocating the money to 88 projects in Buncombe and surrounding counties. In addition to helping to build affordable homes and apartments, the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would help find homes for 14 families who would otherwise be homeless and upgrade two homes that have fallen into serious disrepair. In several cases, the money will add new units to already existing projects. The money isn’t enough to fully build the projects, but serves as seed money, said Jeff Staudinger, Asheville community and economic development assistant director. “We can never raise enough to do the whole project. It’s usually enough to do a couple units,” Staudinger said. “What this does is allow these organizations to leverage the money into even more funding.”

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