Charleston Mayor to ask police chief to lead proposed public safety department

Charleston Mayor to ask police chief to lead proposed public safety department
Mayor John Tecklenburg holds a news conference in October on Hurricane Matthew as Police Chief Greg Mullen, right, looks on. (Source: Live 5)
Mayor John Tecklenburg holds a news conference in October on Hurricane Matthew as Police Chief Greg Mullen, right, looks on. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg will ask the city's police chief to lead a new public safety department he wants to create.

Tecklenburg plans to ask Police Chief Greg Mullen to serve as the Holy City's first Director of Public Safety if city council approves the change, according to a release from the mayor's office.

"For the past eleven years, Chief Mullen has served our city with distinction, reducing crime while creating innovative, nationally-recognized community partnerships like the Illumination Project," Tecklenburg said. "I cannot imagine a better person for the job."

The new department would provide a unified strategic vision and administrative structure for the city's Police, Fire and Emergency Services divisions, while maintaining each as a distinct, specialized force with its own chief, training and command structure, the release states.

"More than a hundred municipalities around the country are currently using this model to make their cities and their citizens safer," Tecklenburg said. "That's why I'm asking Council to study this change and to consider adopting it in the months ahead."

A statement from the mayor's office states recent research has shown this model to be successful in cities small and large, including Kalamazoo, MI, Canton, MI, Sunnyvale, CA and Montgomery, AL.

"Cities have found that when there is collaboration and a strong partnership between police, fire and emergency management personnel, public safety is elevated to a more prominent function, and they are able to provide a full range of services with greater efficiency," the statement read.

Tecklenburg said he would ask council to resolve that "any and all savings that might result from  these suggested changes be reinvested dollar for dollar" in the city's first responders.

Earlier on Friday, Tecklenburg named Deputy Fire Chief John Tippett to serve as interim fire chief when current Chief Karen Brack leaves her post. Tippett's appointment takes effect on April 7.

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