Chester's finest-A work in progress, part three

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By Makeda Baker

Chief of Police Andre Williams, as previously stated, knows law enforcement, and he has some truly talented and well-trained officers under his supervision. And in his own words, the Chester Police Department is "still a work in progress."
One of those talented and trained officers is second in command Major Gene Gilmore, who has been in law enforcement for 23 years, starting out in Great Falls in 1990. It was then on to Fort Lawn in conjunction with the Federal Drug Task Force and then to Chester in 1996.
It was in 2008 that he was and still is the only Chester Police officer to have received recognition from the S.C. Insurance Fraud Investigation Division, or SCIFI, as it is commonly called. This, for his exemplary criminal investigative work in uncovering a series of fraudulent insurance cases that all started with the investigation of a house fire on a home that, it turned out, was deliberately set. The house was in foreclosure, and after a two-week investigation, it was determined that the house fire had been arson. Gilmore is trained and certified in criminal arson investigations.
Word got out about his work and soon the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), along with the insurance companies, began contacting him regarding the unusually high number of automobile accidents in the area. A SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) agent asked that Gilmore specifically be the one to work with him in this fraud investigative area.
It turned out that of the reported 370 accidents in the Chester/Fairfield areas during a two-year period, a full three-fourths of them (75 percent) had been staged for the insurance moneys. As a result, Gilmore was voted recipient of the 2008 SCIFI Award for aiding in the uncovering of the highest number of fraud accidents in the state of S.C. Major Gilmore maintains his trainings and certifications in numerous areas from the Criminal Justice Academy.
Williams recognizes the three administrative secretaries, of whom he says, "They're my backbone to keep the operations going when I'm not in the office." They are Mrs. Reese, Ms. McMillan and Ms. Tobias. Kudos to these ladies.
Then there is Lt. Commander Amanda Huey, who "does an excellent job of carrying out daily operations," which includes maintaining and ordering departmental equipment and supplies. Formerly the community police officer, she works closely with Senior Sgt. John Poole, who is over all the sergeants. Sergeant Poole is over fleet maintenance, uniform code compliance and ensuring all officers are up to date with all training requirements. Poole is now the community officer in addition to serving as the liaison between the Police Training Academy and Chief Williams.
Williams is "very proud of my two investigators, who are both female – Lt. Tammy Levister and Sgt. Lolita Fourney." He says that in law enforcement, "females don't get too much credit," but he has found that in his 20-plus year career in this field, "they'll hold their own when I've been around." He adds that "there is no difference if a woman is backing me up as a man." How about that? Kudos to these ladies as well.
Then, there are the department shift "standouts:" Lt. Troy Canupp and Lt. Milton Simms, who "have adapted real well to the changes" that have been implemented within the department in the last two years. These include having two lieutenants per shift and a rotating on-call schedule. This entails having two days on and two days off followed by three days on and three days off. All shifts are 12 hours and all alarm calls must have a two-person response to them.
Calling the two reserve/volunteer police officers "an asset to the department," the chief offers accolades to them as they are certified officers with full police powers but receive no pay. One is a truck driver and the other is a fireman. Whenever and whatever they are asked to do, whether it is work a parade, narcotics or extra duty, they do it. Kudos to these officers as well.
Williams shares that "in a perfect world," the department would have six people on duty per shift and the breakdown would be three patrol officers, one corporal, one lieutenant and one sergeant, which is "a regular shift structure."
Currently there are a total of nine narcotic agents covering the city and county via the Chester County Drug Task Force, comprised of three agents from the city and the remaining from the county. Previously, there had been only six agents. In the past two years, there have been numerous promotions and raises for the entire department without having to go to the city council, and this has been accomplished by way of restructuring the pay scale.
Williams revels in the current atmosphere of the pro-police city administration, saying this is a joint effort to bulk up the department's manpower and rotate the older police cruisers while changing any old perceptions of the department. It also includes fostering a working relationship with the Chester citizenry by having a "Coffee With the Chief" segment every first Thursday at 9 a.m. at one of the town's restaurants – either T&M, Gene's or Stella's. The public is invited.
Because the department has begun to settle into its new rhythm and the "resistance" and "gripings" have decreased and subsided, Chief Williams describes things as being "good." Coming from one of Chester's finest, I call that good and very good. To all of the officers who comprise the Chester Police Department and live up to the "Serve and Protect" motto, a hearty kudos and thanks to you. Welcome, Chief Williams.