ANDERSON — Madison County's prosecutor believes Anderson's police chief should be demoted for confronting state police when the chief's son, who is also an Anderson police officer, was arrested last month.
Adam Watters was arrested June 7 at the Anderson home of his father, APD Chief Tony Watters, on several felony and misdemeanor charges for an alleged attack on his girlfriend. State police had been asked by APD officials to handle the case, since it involved the Anderson chief's son.
Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman has been named as a special prosecutor in the Adam Watters case.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said an outside prosecutor was appointed to assure the public that the case is being handled objectively.
Cummings said he has met with ISP investigators, who told him Chief Watters was "very close" to being arrested for his behavior during the June 7 incident.
“One of the topics of discussion was the police chief’s behavior at the time of his son’s arrest,” Cummings said. “His behavior, in my opinion, was an embarrassment to this community and the police department.”
Chief Watters, when asked about the comments regarding his behavior by Cummings, said he fully cooperated with the state police investigation.
ISP investigators told Cummings that Tony Watters came physically close to the state investigators and put a finger in their faces, the Madison County prosecutor said.
Tony Watters reportedly said, "You cowboys don’t have the right to be here," and informed them that, "I run this (expletive) town."
“It was disgraceful behavior from the person who is supposed to be the head of law enforcement in this community,” Cummings said. “It causes tremendous problems for our office when you have police agencies in conflict with one another. The chief should have understood what was happening and been cooperative with the state police.”
Cummings said ISP did the investigation as a courtesy for the city of Anderson.
“It’s unacceptable," the prosecutor said. "It’s the kind of behavior by someone who is not qualified to be the police chief.”
Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said Friday he has not met with ISP supervisors but would be happy to do so.
“I’m not going to make a decision on something I haven’t been briefed on,” Broderick said of Cummings' comments. “I’m not going to pre-judge.”
Broderick said he has received no information regarding Chief Watters' behavior June 7.
“When we found out about the Adam Watters situation, we put him immediately on unpaid administrative leave until the court cases are resolved,” the mayor said.
Adam Watters has been involved in three incidents with the state police during his first 18 months as an Anderson police officer.
He was suspended for one day after taking an underage relative into a tavern; was stopped by an ISP officer for driving 90 mph in a 45 mph speed zone; and is now facing criminal charges for the alleged attack on his girlfriend, who recently requested that a no-contact order stemming from the June 7 incident be dismissed.
“I have been involved in law enforcement for 40 years in this community,” Cummings said. “A person with 18 months on the job involved in any one of those incidents, it would cost them their job.
“It’s an abuse of authority,” the prosecutor continued. “There is the perception that the law doesn’t apply to them, it applies to everyone else. When you’re in a position of authority, you don’t get away with more, you get away with less. The light shines brighter on you.”
Cummings, a Republican, said his comments have nothing to do with it being a municipal election year. Broderick, a Democrat, is seeking re-election.
“If the mayor does the right thing here, it’s in his political interest," Cummings said. "I think he will come out on top if he does the right thing. A lot of people in the community are very troubled about this incident.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.