By Barney Blakeney
Some may see Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg’s appointment of Deputy Chief Jerome Taylor as a response to the call for a race bias audit of the police department or an answer to those clamoring for a second Black police chief in its 300-year history. But Taylor who has served at Chief Greg Mullen’s right hand as commander of investigations and community outreach. Taylor says he’s only taking on more responsibility.
It’s something Taylor’s use to doing. During his 44 years with Charleston Police Department Taylor’s risen through the ranks serving as Commander of Operations Bureau, Commander of Special Operations Bureau, Commander of Central Investigations Division, Commander of Uniform Patrol, Deputy Bureau Commander Administrative Services Bureau and SWAT Team Commander.
Throughout his career, the U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran played dual roles in the military and in civilian service. As a reserve officer, Taylor was called back into active duty twice before eventually retiring as a chief petty officer. He considers the appointment, “Almost a non-event”. Although he’s looking forward to the challenge, until August 1, Mullen is chief. You have to respect leadership he says.
Tecklenburg said, “Public safety is the first job of government and, for over forty years, it has been the first job of Jerome Taylor. I know that our city will be in good hands under his guidance as Interim Police Chief.”
Among his peers Taylor is considered a leader who is knowledgeable about law enforcement tactics and department policy. He is expected to use and improve technology that may enhance community policing and morale.
Taylor wouldn’t discuss any priorities he might have for the department under his leadership except to say, “This is a solid department. “It is a reflection of the people we serve. I‘ve experienced several changes of command and I share the same goals as everyone else – providing a safe environment where everyone enjoys the same rights as Americans in a free democracy. I think the department does an outstanding job, and that will continue. This is a time we’ve got to be focused. We’re a team and I’m sure working together we’ll continue to improve.
“I’ve been fortunate and blessed,” Taylor said Monday. “I’ve enjoyed public service. I’m honored and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Police Chief Gregory Mullen said, “Jerome Taylor has continually proven his dedication to the City of Charleston throughout his time with the department. In this new role, I know that he will continue to serve the department with the same sense of drive and determination that he’s displayed during his entire career.”