Candidates for Charleston police chief taking part in two-day visit

Candidates for Charleston police chief taking part in two-day visit

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The final five candidates for the City of Charleston police chief are taking part in a two-day site visit in the Holy City.

On Monday, the candidates met with Mayor John Tecklenburg and members of City Council to talk about what they bring to the table.

The final candidates for Charleston's police chief have been going through interviews throughout the day talking about why they're the best candidate for the job.

"I've got some bumps and bruises from some of the issues that we have here in Charleston in my rear view mirror of lessons learned and an experienced chief," said Kenton Buckner, police chief at Little Rock.

"My master's degree in counseling. It's a little bit different than a traditional law enforcement role. I think it taught me to view things from a different perspective," said Joseph Clark, deputy chief of police in Norfolk.

"I have done everything basically in our organization. I've always embraced leadership and change well. I've taken on a lot of different commands. I've been a station commander of two of our busy districts  which is almost like a chief of police job," said Luther Reynolds, assistant chief of police in Montgomery County.

"Our primary mission is preventing and controlling crime but we have to balance it with maintaining the presence of justice and doing that… That's the vision I would have," said Michael Sullivan, deputy chief of police in Louisville.

"The idea I started this particular job as a patrolman. I had opportunities to move other places, to take CEO jobs. I'm in the Charleston Police Department because I believe I have something to offer," said Jerome Taylor, interim chief for the Charleston Police Department.

One challenge every candidate recognized is going on, not only in Charleston, but in every city is tension between police and the community.

And it's something each realize is extremely important to help those relations.

"You can't do anything significant without their support. The illumination project that you have here is a great nucleus – kind of a working part to continue those efforts," Buckner said.

"I don't know that words alone will reassure anyone. I think it's actions. And when you come into that position you have to show that you mean what you say," Clark said.

"Some of the communities that need us the most, trust us the least. So we have to work very hard to build relationships, to create a conversation," said Reynolds.

"Only through building relationships do you build trust because it's hard to trust somebody you don't know," Sullivan said.

"I know the same feeling of being a black man if a car pulls up behind you with blue lights. It's a matter of understanding each other in reference to a job that needs to be done," Taylor said.

All five candidates will go before three panels on Wednesday consisting of members of the community, council members and city staff.

The mayor will be the one to appoint the police chief with council's consent.

No word on when that could happen yet.

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