Steve Anderson wasted no time Thursday making the jump from his old job to the new.
At noon, he left the Tuscaloosa Police Department after serving as chief for the last 11 years. At 1 p.m., he was on the road to Atlanta to begin his job as director of security for the University of Alabama system.
Rather than spending the morning being nostalgic about his time at the department, Anderson was upbeat and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
“I’ve had plenty of time to think about what I’ve done here for 25 years as a police officer and 11 as chief,” Anderson said. “I’m thinking about what’s ahead. My focus right now is on the task at hand, and that’s getting to Atlanta and getting everything prepared for the arrival of the chancellor, the board of trustees and their guests to the game against Duke.”
On Thursday morning, Mayor Walt Maddox sat in on the regular meeting of Anderson’s command staff to discuss the steps he’ll take and the timeline as he selects a new chief.
Maddox plans to speak with the men and women of the department to get an idea of the qualities they’d like to see in the next chief. He expects to have someone in place sometime around February.
In his new role, Anderson will coordinate and implement security protocols for the UA System’s chancellor, the board of trustees.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I’ve always been a student of lifelong learning, and this is another opportunity for me to begin that process. It’s an exciting time for me in my career.”
Anderson was 37 when Maddox appointed him chief in 2008. He had worked his way through the ranks, first as a patrolman, and later as a homicide, domestic violence and internal affairs investigator.
He said the most memorable time during his career was the day of and the aftermath of the April 27, 2011, tornado.
“That’s the most traumatic event I’ve had to go through, along with the city and the city of Tuscaloosa’s police department,” he said. “That’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
He said he’s most proud of the relationships he’s developed and the programs he’s developed that project a positive image of TPD to the community.
“I feel like I’ve built relationships that will stand the test of time, that will last, and those relationships have been the cornerstone of a lot of things we’ve done here,” he said, mentioning the Citizens Academy started in 2009 and the TAPS Academy for kids in 2018.
He said he’s disappointed he wasn’t able to do more to stop gun violence that’s been on the uptick in recent weeks.
“The nonsense that I continue to see on a daily basis, especially in segments of the African American community here in Tuscaloosa, here in Tuscaloosa with gun violence — the individuals who are out there doing that just don’t get it,” he said. “We can talk and we can encourage them to put down the guns, but at the end of the day the only way we can stop the violence appears to be locking them up.
“It’s sad to say that’s what it’s come to. Seems that no matter ow many people we lock up and how many lives are lost there’s still that segment of the African American community that doesn’t get it. Whether it’s the people committing those crimes, their relatives or their parents, at some point they’re going to have to wake up, open their eyes and do something to assist law enforcement. We can’t do it alone.”
Chief Mitt Tubbs, who marks 32 years with the department in October, is serving as interim chief while Maddox conducts a search to fill the position.