By Barney Blakeney
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen June 8 submitted his letter of retirement to Mayor John Tecklenburg. Mullen became chief October 2, 2006. His retirement is effective Aug. 1.
In his letter to Tecklenburg, Mullen who has spent 34 years in law enforcement said the city is going through tremendous growth and change and will need a chief to guide it through the next decade. He noted both the Michael Slager and Dylann Roof murder trials were conducted in the city simultaneously and were completed without incident which is unprecedented, he said. He said he feels now is the time for transition to occur.
Crime in the city is stable, the department will receive its Gold Standard reaccreditation next month and the Illumination Project is moving forward progressively. Collaboration with other agencies, data driven policing and technology solutions never have been stronger. And with new construction of facilities in West Ashley, a new sub-station in Carolina Bay and another under design near Clements Ferry Road the department is poised to accommodate growth and development in those areas, he said. He’s retiring with pride and a sense of achievement, he said.
Mullen has led the department with dignity, professionalism, grace and compassion – all while keeping the city safe, secure and united, Tecklenburg said. “Few police officers of Chief Mullen’s generation have achieved so much — and fewer still have done so while winning the near-universal admiration and respect of the city and citizens they serve. As I have often said, Chief Mullen has the head and the heart to get the job done, while building strong and enduring relationships with the community he’s sworn to protect.
“That’s why with Chief Mullen’s retirement, I am announcing a professional, wide-ranging national search for Charleston’s next chief of police. And working closely with City Council, community leaders and our citizens, I know that we will soon be welcoming an outstanding new police chief to our city — one who’s worthy of the great department they will be asked to lead, and ready on day one to keep our city safe, secure and peaceful in the years to come.”
Still, Mullen’s retirement comes at a time when the department is undergoing some scrutiny. Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) has called for an outside review of the department in light of what CAJM considers the disproportionate traffic stops of black motorists. According to CAJM, 50 percent of Charleston police traffic stop are of black motorists and the police department leads the state in the number of traffic stops. CAJM calls on Charleston to conduct an audit specifically for bias in the police department with a top rated police auditing firm that has the expertise necessary to produce a report that both the city and police department can trust. CAJM co-founder Rev. Nelson Rivers Tuesday said he’s unsure if that scrutiny in any way influenced Mullen’s retirement.
Charleston City Councilman James Lewis said he will present a resolution to council June 20 asking that it hires a firm to specifically review Charleston police. “Mullen has been good for the city. He’s cleaned up a lot of crime – drug dealers and stuff. I’m satisfied with the job he’s done. But I think he’s faced some pressure about the traffic stops and the proposal to hire him as public safety director. But our new chief won’t face the crime of manpower shortage Mullen met when he came. Because of Mullen, the new chief won’t have such a difficult job,” Lewis said.