Despite being fired weeks before his retirement, veteran Bellevue police officer Roger Anderson said he always remained upbeat that the city would realize it made the wrong decision.
The Bellevue City Council on Monday reversed former Police Chief John Stacey's controversial decision to fire Anderson after more than 29 years on the force. The negotiated settlement allows Anderson, 55, to receive his full retirement package.
“I was overjoyed,” Anderson said Wednesday, marking his first interview since the council's action. “The last five months have been really difficult.”
Stacey fired Anderson after learning the officer had used an hour he had claimed as sick time to administer a firearms test to former colleague Chris Parent.
Anderson would have lost $200,000 from his $550,000 pension fund had the city not reversed his January termination.
“There was just a lot of concern by me and my family with the extra financial strain,” he said. “I played it day by day. I assumed everything would work itself out, and sooner or later, the right decision would be made.”
Anderson said he holds no animosity toward Stacey.
“I have no grudge,” Anderson said, but “I don't think we will be grilling out together.”
The Sarpy County Attorney's Office has charged both Stacey and former Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry with a misdemeanor after Stacey gave her one of his handguns for which she lacked a required certificate.
Stacey decided to resign as police chief. His attorney said Stacey decided that a prolonged personnel investigation was in the works and that he would eventually be removed from his position.
Looking ahead, Anderson hopes Bellevue finds its next permanent police chief through a national search process. Stacey's predecessor, the late Hines Smith, came from Kansas.
“I think they have to find a chief from outside the area so you have a new perspective,” Anderson said. “I think the city will be really surprised with the quality of candidates that they will attract.”
City Council President Scott Houghtaling said Bellevue definitely will conduct a national search for chief.
Bellevue City Administrator Dan Berlowitz has appointed Capt. Mark Elbert as acting police chief.
Anderson said he plans to find a part-time job either in law enforcement or private security.
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