NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) -Reginald L. Burgess became the first African American to serve as head of the North Charleston Police Department when he took charge of the agency in January 2018.
Burgess has seen a lot of changes since growing up as a kid in North Charleston. But his city continues to struggle with violent crime. Just recently, he joined with other agencies to focus on the problem of domestic violence, which resulted in three murders in the month of January.
He knows there’s a stigma associated with his city, and he wants to help change that and let people know it’s a great place to live and raise a family.
Reflecting on his childhood, Burgess says a chance encounter with some older women had a profound impact on his life.
His family was living on Liberty Hill at the time and he was in the 7th grade. This particular day his mom sent him to the store to pick up some groceries.
On the way to the store, two older women, one of them blind, were sitting on the front porch. He spoke to them as he was taught to do by his mother and kept walking to the store.
On the way back home, one lady was in the front yard chopping wood for the wood stove. He noticed that she was struggling, and offered to help.
Three hours later he was still there chopping wood. A cousin of his came into the yard and told him his mom was waiting for him to bring the groceries home.
So he told the ladies he would have to leave, but that he would come back later to finish the work.
That’s when the blind lady said to him, “Son, God has things for you to do and you’ve got to listen to him.”
“She couldn’t see me, but she told me that. And she said ‘If you have manners and respect, that will take you farther than money will,”' Burgess said.
Her statement still makes him emotional to this day, because those were the same words his great grandmother had said to him many times.
But somehow coming from a stranger, who couldn’t even see his face, made the statement all the more powerful.
“And that’s why I believe if you are mannerly, and you respect people, you will win. You will either win them over, or you will be able to win favor with someone, because they see that you are genuine and truly care about people.”
It’s an experience that has stayed with Burgess and compelled him to do all he can to help others.
To learn more about his rise to the top within the North Charleston Police Department, check out his official biography as listed on the City of North Charleston website.
Burgess married his high school sweetheart and former Bonds Wilson/North Charleston High 1984 Homecoming Queen, Tracy Burgess. They are the proud parents of Reggie Burgess II and Kristen Burgess. He has been a member of Royal Missionary Baptist Church since the age of 8, and is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.