Last updated: June 04. 2014 8:54AM - 639 Views
Foster Senn Contributing Columnist

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Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler, recognized as one of the best police officers in South Carolina, will retire from the City of Newberry on June 30. The city will host a reception for Chief Swindler on June 22 from 3-5 pm at the Firehouse Conference Center, and you’re invited.

Introducing Chief Swindler to a group of of local high school student leaders this year, I told the students he has received numerous statewide awards, including South Carolina Police Officer of the Year, and is well known as an outstanding police chief. I asked the students rhetorically: “How does that affect you and what does that mean to our community?”

I told them it means several things.

• It means for citizens who live in Newberry and those that work and shop in Newberry, they’re in a safe community. Newberry has one of the lowest crime rates in the state each year. We appreciate the diligence of Chief Swindler and his staff to keeping our community safe and take great pride in that.

• For crimes that are committed, there’s a good chance the crime will be solved and the criminals apprehended. The Newberry police department routinely has the state’s highest clearance rate, meaning crimes solved.

• And with Chief Swindler and his department’s emphasis on traffic safety, Newberry is regularly recognized as a safe driving community, including AAA’s Grand Winner for 2013 South Carolina Traffic Safe Community. Newberry is annually cited for the low number of accidents and the police department’s emphasis on education, such as the Prom Promise demonstrations with a live, mock DUI collision.

Those are everyday benefits of Chief Swindler’s leadership.

Chief Swindler started as a young cadet with the Newberry police department in 1975. He graduated from Newberry College and earned his Masters in Criminal Justice from USC. He worked his way up through the Newberry police department and was named Newberry Police Chief in 1993.

Over his 21-year career as police chief, Newberry received numerous awards and Chief Swindler many accolades, including the prestigious Strom Thurmond Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement. He also served as president of the SC Law Enforcement Officers Association and president of the S.C. Police Chiefs Association.

Chief Swindler has high standards and put together an excellent staff. Whether the officers are working on crime prevention and crime solving, managing crowd safety at events and festivals or doing everyday acts of kindness, the city staff is outstanding.

Just last week the city received a letter from a Wisconsin couple who stopped in Newberry for a visit but left a pair of eye glasses in a local store. Asking the Newberry police department for help, Officer Allison Moore contacted the store, “found my glasses, packaged them very carefully, mailed them, and they arrived in northern Wisconsin safely,” said the appreciative writer. As mayor I receive many comments like this from local residents and visitors, complimenting the police department.

City Manager Al Harvey plans to name a new police chief soon. As Chief Swindler caps off his 39-year career with the Newberry police department, we thank him for his service, his leadership, and his outstanding work.

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