After carrying the tag as interim chief for more than seven months, Steve Anderson is now the long-term choice to lead the Metro Nashville Police Department.
Mayor Karl Dean late Thursday promoted Anderson as Metro’s full-time chief of police, officially ridding the veteran cop of the interim label he received in May after replacing departed chief Ronal Serpas, who moved on to his native New Orleans in the same role.
Upon taking the interim job, Anderson originally said he wasn’t interested in assuming the position full-time. Anderson, a 35-year veteran in the force, still insists it was never his goal.
“I changed my mind over the last few weeks because of the leadership from top to bottom,” Anderson said, referring to ranks within the department. “Seeing how the members of the department out their on the street were ready to come to work every day and were very excited about the work they did –– that gave me some encouragement and some enthusiasm.”
Last week, the mayor’s office instructed the Metro Human Resources Department to search for the long-term replacement from within the police department. Anderson, former deputy chief of the department, had long been perceived as the frontrunner for the job, having received high praise from Dean, fellow officers and others.
Dean said Anderson was the only candidate who turned in an application.
“I’m not surprised by that,” Dean said, adding the hire was an “easy decision.”
“He brings an incredible level of experience, an incredible amount of knowledge about the way the police department works and the way law enforcement works,” the mayor said. “He brings the abilities of a licensed attorney. I think he clearly was an outstanding candidate.”
Dean said he and his staff gave “due consideration” to conducting a national search to find Serpas’ successor. Former Mayor Bill Purcell conducted a national search before selecting Serpas.
“In some cases, it is the best course of action,” Dean said. “In other cases, it’s not. After talking to people here and people outside of Nashville, I came to the conclusion that the talent and the expertise we need in our next police chief comes from the current ranks of the Nashville police department.”
Anderson, notably low-key compared to the charismatic, television-camera-friendly Serpas, said there really isn’t too much difference between the two in terms of philosophy and priorities.
“We agreed when he was here,” Anderson said. “We agreed on most everything. Now, we sometimes disagreed on how to get there, and we often discussed that. He presents himself as a very strong personality. My personality is just as strong. I’m just not as vocal about it.
“My goals and his goals were pretty much the same,” Anderson added. “We’ll stay on pretty much the same path ... You won’t see many major changes in the department.”
Anderson, who has also held the titles of sergeant, lieutenant, captain and assistant chief within the department, said the next few years will be “pretty exciting” for the city’s more than 1,400 sworn officers.
Two new police precincts are set to open, as well as a DNA crime lab at the former Peterbilt site in Madison. Anderson also cited Nashville’s more than 500 neighborhood groups, adding it’s the department’s goal to continue to strengthen communication from neighborhoods to officers.
In May, Dean asked the Office of Internal Audit to review the police department's methods of collecting and reporting crime statistics, compare them to other department's and recommend changes to the methods.
The findings of that audit have yet to be released.