MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon officer discovered to have Ku Klux Klan memorabilia in his home has reached a settlement with the city that keeps him off the street but allows him to retire at the end of the year with a full pension.
City officials say the agreement achieves the goals of keeping the officer out of uniform and ends his employment with the city.
But the couple who were shocked by the officer’s display says the outcome is disappointing.
Rob Mathis and his wife, Reyna, were touring a home for sale in nearby Holton when they saw first Confederate flag-emblazoned items and then in a bedroom the application for membership to the Ku Klux Klan.
Mathis posted pictures of what he saw on Facebook and discovered the home belonged to Muskegon police officer Charles “Chuck” Anderson.
“Everybody from the city commission through the city administration and down to a vast majority of the public all agreed that this person couldn’t come back to work,” Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson said Friday.
Finally, following a closed session discussion late last month, the City Commission approved a settlement that puts Anderson on unpaid leave until the end of this year. He will then be able to retire with his full 25-year pension and some 650 hours of accrued sick and vacation pay.
“It doesn’t end up costing the taxpayers anything. It just requires us to be patient for a few months and allow this person to retire,” Peterson said. “If we want to heal from this and whatever damage this city or our police department or our community, we needed to bring closure before we could do that properly.”
Friday, Mathis said the agreement falls short of what was needed.
“It’s a shame that the city had to give into these negotiations with the police labor union, I’m disappointed,” Mathis said.
Mathis says the agreement does not sufficiently punish the officer.
“He shouldn’t have gotten any type of settlement, he shouldn’t have been able to retire,” Mathis said.
Peterson points out that Anderson has a union backing him and a collective bargaining agreement that could have ended in arbitration, which can be unpredictable.
“We could not take his retirement away from him. Legally, we cannot. The state constitution protects his accrued benefit,” Peterson said.
The city manager said the hiring process is much different in 2020 that it was in 1995 when Anderson was hired that looks for potential problems.
Mathis says he is glad Anderson is gone, but he says there needs to be more attention paid to the relationship between police and communities of color.
He said he and his family are still feeling the results of the incident and has been unable to put it past them.
He also wants independent investigations outside of the Muskegon area, looking into allegations of police misconduct.
He says the problem is bigger than just one officer or one department, as the events of this week have demonstrated.
“Police policing the police is not going to get the results that is in the best interests of the community,” Mathis said. “His life is going on, he’s moved away and he’s having a good old time, but the racism still exists in the police force,”
News 8 left a message for Anderson, who now lives in Tennessee but did not hear back Friday.