North Charleston Police Chief speaks to CSU students
North Charleston’s new police chief, Reggie Burgess, has spent 29 years in the department and is now tasked with enforcing the law in the state’s third largest city.
“Yeah, I am black, but I’ve been black for 52 years,” Burgess told a group of largely criminal justice students. The City of North Charleston is very diverse:
- 43% Caucasian
- 40% African-American
- 17% Hispanic, Asian, others
When Burgess finished college he tried professional football but was cut by the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He immediately returned home and joined the police force because he “wanted to make a difference.”
A gradual rise through the ranks included a stint with the department’s SWAT Team followed by various promotions. In January 2018, Burgess became Chief. All along the way, he tried to pass along what he learned. “If you take what you have and don’t share it, that’s selfish,” he said.
Burgess shared the story of his biological mother not wanting him and a young woman of only 17 who desperately chose to claim him and raise him with love and discipline. Burgess also shared that he was not a model student and when he got out of line, “my momma came to school and handled it.”
As for effectively policing a city so diverse and widespread with a criminal reputation, he says he challenges his officers not to “go get the white guy or the black guy.” He tells them to “go get the criminal.” His ultimate goal is to legally police his hometown so that North Charleston residents can enjoy a quality life.
Burgess hopes his knowledge, experience, sensitivity and passion for the job will enable him to do what he wanted to do the first time he put on his uniform – make a difference.