City of Charleston Police Department

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City of Charleston Police Department
Logo of the City of Charleston Police Department
Agency overview
Formed 1856; 1865; 1877 (modern department)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Legal jurisdiction Municipal
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Charleston, South Carolina
Sworn members 422
Agency executive Gregory G. Mullen, Chief of Police (2006-present)
Stations 8
Boats 4
Aircraft 0
Official website

The City of Charleston Police Department (CPD) is the official police force of Charleston, South Carolina. It is South Carolina's largest police department, besides the state police, in terms of manpower, with 422 sworn officers, 137 civilians and numerous reserve officers and non-sworn volunteers. In July, 2011, the department was re-accredited through 2014 with the Accreditation with Excellence Award by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Replacing the former "Flagship Award," the Accreditation with Excellence Award is the highest single-period accreditation award available. The department also received the Meritorious Accreditation Award in 2011, representing at least 15 continuous years of CALEA accreditation.[1]


The department has a number of operational units, including:

  • Uniform Patrol Division
  • Central Investigations Division
  • Traffic Unit
  • Harbor Patrol
  • Canine Unit
  • Special-Activated Units, including the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, the Crisis Negotiation Team, the Explosive Devices Team, the Underwater Recovery Team, the Civil Disturbance Unit, the Disaster Response Team, and the Honor Guard
  • Forensics Services Division, including the Crime Scene Unit, a Fingerprint Lab, a Crime Lab, a Photo Lab, a Digital Evidence Unit, and a Polygraph Examiner
  • Computer Crime Unit
  • Victims Services Unit
  • Animal Services
  • Community Services Officer (CSO) Unit, composed of uniformed volunteers who assist the department with various non-enforcement duties

The department manages and maintains its own fleet of vehicles, with ASE-certified mechanics operating an on-site garage. The department also operates a radio shop that programs and maintains the department's radio network and emergency vehicle equipment.


The Charleston Police Department's primary vehicle is the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, and is gradually being replaced by the new Taurus based Ford Police Interceptor. The marked patrol fleet is augmented with the police version of the Dodge Charger, the Chevrolet Impala with the police package, and the new Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle. The Traffic unit uses Crown Victorias and Chargers, as well as Ford Mustangs and Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motorcycles.

The department employs a wide variety of unmarked vehicles for officers assigned to administrative, investigative, patrol, special operations, and undercover assignments. Vehicles used are a mixture of Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford Crown Victorias, and Ford Fusions.

Units serving in the peninsula of Charleston also use Trek police mountain bikes, T3 Motion electric vehicles, and Segway personal transporters.


The Charleston Police Department has several stations.

  • Chief John Conroy Law Enforcement Center - CPD's headquarters and the Communications Center for several city Emergency Services, excluding the Charleston Fire Department (CFD). The Chief Reuben M. Greenberg Municipal Complex, located adjacent to the Chief Conroy building, houses the city's courthouse, the Municipal Court operations offices, the Department of Traffic and Transportation, and a Department of Motor Vehicles office.
  • Team 1 Office on Meeting Street
  • Team 2 Office on Wilson Street
  • Team 3 Office on Wappoo Creek Drive
  • Johns Island Office at the CFD station on Bohicket Road
  • Team 4 Office at the CFD station on Bees Ferry Road
  • Team 5 Office at the CFD station on Seven Farms Drive
  • Team 7 Office (Traffic Division) on Brigade Street
  • Crime Prevention Office in the Citadel Mall on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard
  • Numerous other facilities and offices throughout the community

The headquarters building is the only CPD facility that is staffed 24 hours per day; all others serve as substations and/or business offices.

The Charleston Police Department also has authority over the:

  • Temporary Holding Facility (the modern City Jail was closed in 2007)
  • Police memorial at Brittlebank Park (across Lockwood Boulevard from the Chief Greenberg Complex)

Rank structure[edit]

Title Insignia
Chief of Police
US-O6 insignia.svg
Deputy Chief
US-O5 insignia.svg
US-O3 insignia.svg
US-O2 insignia.svg
MPDC Sergeant Stripes.png
Master Police Officer
West Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Stripes.png
(colors inaccurate)
Senior Police Officer
First Class Stripes - Blue w-White.png
Police Officer
Probationary Police Officer

Charleston Police Department chevrons are royal blue on a black background. Non-commissioned officers also wear one royal blue-on-black hash mark on their lower left sleeves for every four years of service to the department.

The design of an officer's badge also changes by rank.

The titles "Detective" and "Investigator" are based on assignment only. Detectives are assigned to the Central Investigations Division and wear gold badges. Investigators are officers whose primary responsibilities include the investigation of criminal offenses, but who are not assigned to Central.

The position of Patrol Training Officer, or PTO, is bestowed upon experienced officers in the Uniform Patrol Division whose responsibilities include the training and evaluation of new officers upon their graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. The PTO designation is displayed on a pin worn above the officer's name tag. The position of PTO was formerly known as Field Training Officer, or FTO.

The ranks of Probationary Police Officer and Police Officer were formerly known as Private. The rank of Senior Police Officer was formerly known as Private First Class. The rank of Master Police Officer was formerly known as Corporal. While the Charleston Police Department is currently phasing these ranks out in favor of the new command structure, some officers will continue to wear the old rank until they are promoted.

Fallen Officers[edit]

Officer Date of Death Details
Policeman John Harlow[2] Sunday, December 22, 1878 Gunfire
Policeman John Joseph Bean, Jr.[3] Friday, April 21, 1899 Gunfire
Policeman James J. Duffy[4] Sunday, July 16, 1916 Gunfire
Policeman William E. Raymond[5] Wednesday, September 10, 1919 Gunfire
Traffic Policeman Julian C. Bunch[6] Sunday, May 1, 1932 Motorcycle accident
Policeman Snyder Lee Risher[7] Friday, May 6, 1932 Vehicular assault
Patrolman Lawrence Marion Strock[8] Saturday, September 10, 1932 Gunfire
Detective Purce A. Wanly[9] Tuesday, July 14, 1936 Gunfire
Policeman Walter J. Miller[10] Sunday, July 14, 1940 Vehicle pursuit
Policeman William Henry Wilson[11] Tuesday, December 8, 1942 Automobile accident
Lieutenant Keith Ellsworth[12] Friday, October 6, 1944 Gunfire
Patrolman Junius P. Lewis[13] Thursday, December 6, 1951 Struck by vehicle
Detective James F. Tindal[14] Friday, June 17, 1955 Automobile accident
Policeman Lawrence B. Aytes[15] Friday, June 17, 1955 Fire
Sergeant Jessie C. Benton[16] Friday, June 17, 1955 Automobile accident
Lieutenant Joseph Vega[17] Wednesday, October 12, 1955 Heart attack
Patrolman Wesley John Smith[18] Tuesday, December 16, 1975 Automobile accident
Patrolman Charles Alvin Snider[19] Friday, March 2, 1979 Gunfire
Police Officer Perrin Richard "Rick" Love II[20] Friday, May 21, 1999 Gunfire (accidental)
Private First Class Dennis Elisha LaPage[21] Saturday, January 19, 2002 Gunfire
Private First Class Roger Myers[22] Monday, April 5, 2004 Heart attack


In the early colonial period, police protection for the citizens of Charleston was performed by the Town Watch, a paramilitary unit. After incorporation in 1783, Charleston formally established the City Guard, another paramilitary force. This organization helped suppress the 1822 Vesey slave rebellion.[23] From 1846–1855, the City Guard was reorganized several times and finally emerged in 1856 as a uniformed police force under the administration of Mayor William Porcher Miles.[citation needed]

The Guard was armed with swords and pistols. It enforced a nine o'clock curfew for African-American residents of the city. Based at the "Guard House" at the corner of Broad and Main Streets, the force flogged those out after hours.[24]

Prior to the close of the Civil War, martial law was enacted in Charleston, and the city police force disbanded. Civil police forces were revived and reorganized, however, in 1865 following the election of P. C. Gaillard. These forces served as a counterpoint to the federal authorities until the end of martial law in 1877.[citation needed]

The election of Mayor W. W. Sale that same year marked the introduction of a city police organizational system of officers and men, divided between the main station and the upper station, a system that was continued by succeeding administrations.

On 7 February 1888 a new station was opened at the corner of southeast King and Hutson Streets. In 1895 the State of South Carolina authorities established a metropolitan police and seized control of the organization from January 1896 to 30 September 1897, at which time control was returned to the city. In 1907 a large, modern facility was erected at the northwest corner of Vanderhorst and St. Philip Streets. The police department remained at this location until 1974, at which time they moved to their current location on Lockwood Boulevard.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-26. Retrieved 2008-11-03.  Official Website
  2. ^ "Policeman John Harlow". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  3. ^ "Policeman John Joseph Bean, Jr.". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  4. ^ "Policeman James J. Duffy". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  5. ^ "Policeman William E. Raymond". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  6. ^ "Traffic Policeman Julian C. Bunch". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  7. ^ "Policeman Snyder Lee Risher". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  8. ^ "Patrolman Lawrence Marion Strock". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  9. ^ "Detective Purce A. Wansley". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  10. ^ "Policeman Walter J. Miller". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  11. ^ "Policeman William Henry Wilson". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  12. ^ "Lieutenant Keith Ellsworth". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  13. ^ "Patrolman Junius P. Lewis". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  14. ^ "Detective James F. Tindal". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  15. ^ "Policeman Lawrence B. Aytes". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  16. ^ "Sergeant Jessie C. Benton". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  17. ^ "Lieutenant Joseph Vega". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  18. ^ "Patrolman Wesley John Smith". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  19. ^ "Patrolman Charles Alvin Snider". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  20. ^ "Police Officer Perrin Richard "Rick" Love, II". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  21. ^ "Private First Class Dennis Elisha LaPage". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  22. ^ "Private First Class Roger Myers". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  23. ^ Starobin, Paul (April 11, 2017). Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War (1st ed.). 7: Public Affairs. 
  24. ^ Starobin, Paul (April 11, 2017). Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War (1st ed.). 7: Public Affairs. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°47′20″N 79°57′34″W / 32.78889°N 79.95944°W / 32.78889; -79.95944