After 25 years of service with the Tuscaloosa Police Department and nearly 11 years as chief of police, Steve Anderson has officially left the building. But he’s still far from retirement.

Here’s a glimpse into what the Druid City means to Anderson, and what he’s meant to the community.

“I great up in a small town in Alabama called Uniontown,” he said. “It’s in Perry County. I spent the majority of my life there. I actually left Uniontown when I left to go to school at the University of Alabama in August 1989.”

When Anderson arrived in Tuscaloosa 30 years ago, he had no idea how much he’d change it.

“I graduated from the University of Alabama in 1993,” he said. “In December of that same year, I applied with the Tuscaloosa Police Department and other departments around Alabama and the state of Georgia. I was just waiting on that first department to call. That was the department I was going to work for, and lucky for me Tuscaloosa was the first one to call.”

He worked his way up the ranks over the next 14 years, and in October 2008 Anderson made history when he was sworn in as Tuscaloosa’s first black chief of police.

“Being out in the community and being able to work as a police officer and help people, that was something that was exciting for me and that I enjoyed doing,” he said. “And I figured that I could help people by moving up the ranks and having the ability to do a little bit more than if I just stayed in patrol or as an investigator. And so that was why I chose to move up the ranks and try to help not just the police department but also the community. ”

Anderson said he’s seen more than enough tragedies, lost lives and devastation in his 25-year career, but leaving or switching to an easier path wasn’t an option.

“I don’t know that I have ever been able to not take it home with me,” he said. “Some of the worst things that I have ever had to deal with in my career were always involving children. Innocent children who had not done anything to anyone or caused anyone any problems, and yet they have become victims of crimes. Those were always the toughest.”

He helped Tuscaloosa rise from the destruction of April 27, 2011.

“Even now there are some days when the clouds look a certain way, or I look at the weather forecast and it brings back all those memories,” Anderson said.

And while Anderson spent his career making the bad better, he said the good in Tuscaloosa far outweighs the bad.

“We live in a day and time where if you look at what goes on social media, that will tell you police officers aren’t respected and no one cares about police officers,” he said. “I can tell you the people in Tuscaloosa care about police officers and they love their law enforcement officers. That is the thing that endears this community is the love they have for not only me but for all the men and women who wear the uniform.”

While Anderson worked at changing Tuscaloosa for the better, he said the city did the same for him.

“I appreciate the chance to have been given this opportunity,” he said. “A little boy from Uniontown growing up, not having any experience with police officers or knowing any. To come to Tuscaloosa, which I considered to be a big city at the time. To be loved and embraced by the people of Tuscaloosa has been such a wonderful thing for me.”

Anderson’s retirement from the Tuscaloosa Police Department lasted about one hour, because he went straight from the police department to his new job as head of security for the University of Alabama System.

Categories: Community, Local News, Spirit of Alabama