MOUNT PLEASANT — Town officials hope to tap someone from within the police department’s ranks to replace outgoing Chief Harry Sewell, who is retiring at year’s end to pursue a calling to the ministry.
Sewell on Monday announced his plans to step down after five years as chief “to serve my Lord, Jesus Christ.” No successor has been named, but some officials think they can find the town’s next top cop close to home.
“I believe that we possess in-house the talent we need to fill Harry’s position and to maintain the department’s longstanding tradition of excellence,” Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said.
Sewell, 52, is the second area police chief to announce retirement plans in recent weeks. Sewell, a 22-year police veteran, follows North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt, who announced last month that he will step down in January.
Sewell did not make himself available for interviews, but he issued a statement late in the day saying he is grateful for the support of a “great citizenry” and is blessed “to work with some of the finest men and women in law enforcement.”
“The Town of Mount Pleasant has been an awesome place to work, and I could never express how much I appreciate what the town has done for me and my family, or how much I have enjoyed serving the citizens,” Sewell said. “Over the last year or so, I have been getting a strong call to go into the ministry to serve my Lord, Jesus Christ; therefore, I am going to pursue this calling.”
Mayor Billy Swails and others described Sewell as a dedicated, compassionate leader with a deep faith and a passion for helping others.
“He is a very conscientious, religious man, and I think he wants to pursue helping people in other ways,” Swails said. “He’s leaving on top, and he’s young enough to do something else. He will be missed.”
Sewell was named police chief in June 2007 after serving as acting chief, a role he had occupied periodically since September 2004. He oversees a department that employs 149 sworn officers and 43 civilian personnel, serving a population of nearly 68,000.
Sewell rose through the ranks after joining the department in 1990. Before that, he had a two-year stint in law enforcement with the State Ports Authority.
Sewell is credited with continued improvement of the department. He fought for tougher state laws to address problem offenders and was an early advocate of the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center, a critical nerve center designed to streamline and improve emergency communications.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Sewell has done an excellent job shepherding the police department through a period of tremendous growth and change in Mount Pleasant.
“I think Harry is far from making his final contribution to the community,” he said. “I definitely expect him to continue to be an important leader in the community.”
Town Councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall said Sewell has demonstrated an extensive knowledge of law enforcement and a true caring for the people around him.
“He has a love for this town, this community and its residents,” she said.