MOUNT PLEASANT — Maj. Carl Ritchie, a 24-year veteran of the town’s police department, will start serving as its new chief Jan. 1.
Town Council voted unanimously Monday to approve Ritchie’s promotion, which was recommended by Town Administrator Eric DeMoura.
Ritchie said he does not foresee any significant changes for the department as he takes over from Chief Harry Sewell, 52, who announced last month he would resign to take a job with the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy.
“Right now our agency is running very well,” Ritchie said. “I don’t think you’ll see a whole lot of difference with me and Chief Sewell. We grew up together with this agency.”
While Mount Pleasant is South Carolina’s fourth-largest municipality, it doesn’t have the volume of violent crime that many other large and medium-size cities face.
Ritchie said he could not recall one unsolved case here that nagged at him, and he cited the number of burglaries and larcenies as his top crime concern. He noted many of those occur with vehicles left unlocked, so police can do better educating the public about locking up.
“We’re losing a great guy,” Mayor Billy Swails said. “We’ve got a great guy.”
He called Ritchie “a good military man and a good community member,” adding that when DeMoura put forth Ritchie’s name “it was a no-brainer for us.”
Council spent only a brief time in closed session discussing legal and contractual aspects to Ritchie’s hire.
While council hired only the town administrator, who makes all other hiring decisions, Swails said DeMoura sought council’s blessing on his choice.
Swails noted Ritchie has worked with the department for 24 years, “and we look forward to many, many more.” Swails said the town’s police department “is first class to start with” and told Ritchie to feel free to ask him and council for whatever is needed to keep it that way.
One of the town’s biggest issues has been its rapid growth, but Ritchie said the department’s numbers have kept up.
Among his first tasks will be deciding who should assume his former responsibilities as major over the department’s patrol division and special operations units.
Ritchie resides in the town and has about 30 years total law enforcement experience, including two years with the North Charleston Police Department and several with the Air Force’s security forces.
His promotion marks the end of a full carousel rotation among high-profile Lowcountry law enforcement posts. The movement began when North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt retired earlier this fall and Mayor Keith Summey tapped Coastal Crisis Chaplain Eddie Driggers for Zumalt’s old job. Meanwhile, Sewell resigned and later agreed to fill the vacant chaplaincy post.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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