CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A former Chesapeake police officer and West Virginia State Police employee is charged in Lincoln County with impersonating a police officer and carrying a firearm into two schools.
A school official said teachers knew that the man, Robert Thomas Anderson Jr., no longer was a police officer and was only helping out with an after-school program.
Anderson's lawyers say the charges are an attempt by Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman to hurt a potential political opponent.
David Roach, superintendent for Lincoln County Schools, confirmed that Anderson was invited by school officials into the schools to speak at an after-school program. Roach was at an out-of-town meeting and confirmed the information through Tina Black, a receptionist for the county school board.
"In no way, shape or form was [Anderson] out of line," she said. "It was reported to Mr. Roach that he did an excellent job."
According to the criminal complaint filed in Lincoln County Magistrate Court, Anderson went to Duval Middle School on Oct. 13 wearing a Chesapeake police uniform. He also had a badge, gun and German shepherd.
Anderson gave presentations to students, saying he was a police officer and the dog was a K-9 drug officer, the criminal complaint states.
"Mr. Anderson has also went to the Midway elementary school, as well as he has done this for some time according to the statements of the staff at both schools," according to the complaint.
Anderson is charged with impersonating a law-enforcement officer and possessing a deadly weapon on the premises of educational facilities.
Anderson's attorney, Bill Forbes, said the decision to arrest his client was a political one made by Bowman, the sheriff.
"[Anderson] made the unfortunate mistake of saying to someone he wanted to run for sheriff in Lincoln County," Forbes said. "The next thing he knows, he is arrested for impersonating a police officer, which is something he was not doing."
According to a story published by the Lincoln Journal, Bowman led deputies who arrested Anderson at his Alum Creek home on Oct. 22. Neither Anderson nor Bowman returned phone calls Friday afternoon.
Chesapeake Police Chief Jack Ice said in a statement that he provided the police uniform to Anderson "for the sole purpose of wearing his former uniform for two drug-awareness programs at two school locations in Lincoln County."