Charleston's new police chief lays out his goals for the department

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's been nearly one week, since the new Charleston Chief of Police Luther Reynolds was sworn in and has been learning the ropes of the department.

"Within the department, the biggest thing that struck me more than anything, and this seems so simple but it's so profound, is the men and women in the organization," Reynolds said. "They're level of commitment to this profession, to this community, to each other, to making a difference, to having an impact. And the level of integrity, the level of professionalism, the desire to get better, the desire to be innovative. It sounds kind of simple but it's pretty profound."

Reynolds' biggest goal right now, and moving forward, is to listen.

"I'm never going to stop listening," Reynolds said. "I'm never going to stop asking questions."

While Reynolds says the department is already exemplary, there are always things that can be improved.

"There are a lot of contemporary issues in our communities that we have to be really tuned in to," Reynolds added.

Those issues, across the nation, include community relations and public trust, both of which require building relationships.

"There are three things that we have to do as an organization," Reynolds continued. "One, we have to hire the best people. Two, we have to provide them with the best possible training. Three, we have to have a culture of accountability within our organization."

Part of that accountability comes with an audit of the department and Reynolds said being open is critical.

The auditing firm will look at several practices and policies of the police department including traffic stops, use of force recruitment and hiring.

"As we move through that process, do people feel engaged? Do they trust in the process? Is there enough transparency?" Reynolds said.

The audit will cover the last five years including the police department's response and investigation of any complaints.

Officials hope to have a firm hired to do the audit by the end of July.

Reynolds said he wants to develop trust with the community, but also within the department.

"People have to feel like their opinions are valued. And that they can speak up as well if they see something that's wrong," he said.

In regards to salaries, Reynolds said it's one component of hiring and maintaining the best people.

"I will always be looking at salaries and benefits and make sure we have the best workforce here," he said."And I know the mayor's office is very interested in making sure that public safety in Charleston is a high priority."

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