Police Chief Robert Ford will be stepping down from his post as chief of police for the Town of Kingstree for personal reasons. The announcement was made during an August 27, special called meeting. Ford will remain in his role as chief until a new chief is hired. However, once the position is filled Ford will assume the role of chief investigator and public relations officer for the department.Ford has been with the department for 21 years; however, his career began in the military, making his total law enforcement service of 36 years.
The position of chief is a stressful one, to say the least but Ford has enjoyed it. Ford is accustomed to working 50 to 60 hours a week, though he isn’t required to do so. “I like to be involved,” said Ford. “If anything serious happens, I come out.” He added that the officers are the backbone of the department. “The citizens need to understand that the officers working for them are truly, truly dedicated in what they do,” said Ford. “More is done than they realize to protect them.”
Ford is well known in the community as he has spearheaded several programs that involve the department on the personal level. In 2009, he organized a Community Safety Improvement program, which included all the law enforcement agencies within Williamsburg County visit neighborhoods, knocking on doors and introducing themselves. Citizens would then be encouraged to provide input and children had an opportunity to meet the officers and say hello to Oscar, the K-9 Unit’s German shepherd. At the same time, law enforcement would conduct safety checkpoints.
Under Ford, an explorer program and a show-and-tell that got kids involved on a more personal level were initiated. In addition, he spearheaded an elderly check program where police officers make regular visits to senior citizens’ homes. “All they need to do is give us their name, address and phone number,” said Ford. “On a daily basis an officer will come by and check on them to make sure they’re ok.” The latest program is a community watch program where the department educates and guides citizens in ways to be proactive in the safety of their neighborhood. “I have truly enjoyed working for the people of Kingstree,” said Ford. “I came here as a visitor and woke up one morning and realized I was at home.”
Town Council Mayor Pro Tem Monica Murdaugh said Ford’s ability to connect with the community would remain a vital component of the department. “The chief is a very personable, very well-loved and respected person in this community, and I really feel that him now being a liaison to the community will help bring a lot of services and public relations,” said Murdaugh. “He will be the perfect person for the job to make our citizen realize the police are not just about enforcing the law but also that their to serve and protect. And I look forward to helping him any way I can.” Ford says he is looking forward to the move, though it is bitter sweet. “I want to see what it feels like to be moving at a slower pace - so to speak - not shirking responsibilities but something a little less,” said Ford. His idea of moving at a slower pace may be met with two-legged resistance. “I’m looking forward to spending time with my grandson,” said Ford with a smile. “He’s nine-year-old. We’re going to try to do a little fishing - and play a little ball, if I still know how to catch.”