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Gustine police chief quits following February DUI arrest

Gustine police chief Kris Anderson
Gustine police chief Kris Anderson Merced Sun-Star

GUSTINE — Kris Anderson, the city's embattled police chief — arrested in February for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol — has stepped down.

Acting Police Chief Devon Stavrowsky said Anderson announced his decision to the department March 25, with the retirement effective immediately.

Stavrowsky said many of the officers at the 10-member department were "sad to see (Anderson) go," although he "clearly had bad judgment."

Stavrowsky said the difference of opinion over Anderson's arrest was one factor in his retiring, suggesting that he had done it for the city's well-being. "He just decided that this was the point in his career, for the benefit of everybody involved, he was just going to go ahead and pull the plug," Stavrowsky said. "It was causing too much turmoil within the city itself."

Anderson, 59, was arrested by the California Highway Patrol Feb. 24 near Tracy when drivers reported his Jeep was weaving on Interstate 580. He was about 10 miles away from his Livermore home. CHP investigators said he failed a field sobriety test.

On Tuesday, he didn't return calls placed to his home. A woman who answered the phone at Anderson's Livermore-based attorney's office said James McGrail, the lawyer, had "no comment" and hung up the phone.

Gustine Mayor Rich Ford said Anderson made the right decision by stepping down, saying it would have been difficult for him to remain the city's top cop with a "DUI hanging over his head. There's still a lot of community support for him, people saying, 'Can't you find a way to keep him on?' and some of that stuff," Ford said. "The whole situation is just really difficult. There's too many variables to make it work, as far as I can see."

Now that Anderson has stepped down, Ford said the city must start searching for a new chief — a process that could take quite awhile. "These small communities, we just can't afford to pay the amount of money it takes to get chiefs," Ford said. "That's the hard part — trying to find a police chief who is willing to work for those wages."

Anderson's starting salary was $72,293 a year.

Ford said he didn't see any reason to continue a city investigation into Anderson's alleged DUI, now that he has ended his employment there.

Anderson, a 28-year veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and a Livermore resident, had a three-year contract as Gustine chief and had been in the post for about a year before his arrest.

His short time as police chief was not without controversy before the alleged DUI incident. In July last year, he received a no-confidence vote from the Gustine Police Officers Association. Back then, the union called for Anderson's resignation, citing unexpected schedule changes, lack of leadership, poor communication skills and unprofessional behavior at work and in public.

Others complained that Anderson lived in Livermore — about an hour away from Gustine.

Despite Anderson's arrest and ultimate retirement, Ford said the chief had made several positive contributions to the department and community — contributions he hopes will remain in place.

Ford credited Anderson with initiating the police department's community policing program, in addition to starting a Boy Scout troop and the "Oktoberfesta" celebration. "Chief Anderson had a lot of good stuff going, and I hope that we can just continue a lot of the work that he was doing," Ford said. "It's just been a totally different style that he has generated inside of the police department and that is going to be hard to replace. That's the disappointing part of the whole thing."

Anderson will maintain his benefits because of his previous employment in Alameda County, but he wasn't police chief long enough in Gustine to draw a retirement income.

Anderson is scheduled to be arraigned in San Joaquin County Superior Court on April 15.CHITA - A federal indictment in Wichita accuses a California man of not paying more than $35,000 in child support for his children in Kansas.

Christopher L. Mason, 29, of Modesto, Calif., faces four counts of failing to pay child support spanning nearly 10 years.

The indictment claims that Mason had children ages 12, 9, 5 and 4, living in Sedgwick, Shawnee, Reno and Sumner counties in Kansas.

The Child Support Recovery Act makes it a federal crime not to pay large sums of child support for two years or more. Mason is charged with three counts of owing more than $10,000 in child support and one count of failing to pay more than $5,000.

If convicted, Mason faces a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison on each count and a fine of up to $250,000, as well as mandatory restitution of the unpaid child support.

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