CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston Police Department (CPD) Chief of Police Chito Walker was officially sworn in Wednesday, and Thursday, he sat down with New 2 exclusively to discuss his vision for the future of the department.
Walker says the last 24 hours have been fast paced, but says he’s now settled in, and ready to get to work in his new role as the City of Charleston’s police chief.
Walker says his journey to becoming chief has been a blessing, and it’s something he doesn’t take for granted. That journey began once he graduated from South Carolina State University in 2000.
“I always had an idea that I was going to do public safety,” Walker said, “just didn’t know exactly where. After graduation, Charleston was one of the locations I actually looked into.”
Walker is originally from Greenville, but has called Charleston home for decades. He has served the city in several roles over the last 23 years, becoming the first chief to work his way up through the entire Charleston Police Department.
“It’s not something that I set out to do or had a goal saying I was going to lead this organization,” he said. “I just worked.”
Walker says in his new role he will continue to do what he’s always done and what has brought him much success in his career.
“Being able to lead by example,” Walker said. “Being able to mentor those who serve under you. Leading with compassion, understanding, but getting the job done. That’s what I’m about.”
Walker had a close relationship with former Police Chief Luther Reynolds, who died in my after a two-year battle with cancer. He says Reynolds was a great mentor whose leadership helped prepare him for this position.
“Always willing to listen,” he said, “always willing to offer advice. Very family-oriented, very spiritual and all those things resonated.”
Walker stressed that public safety is truly a calling and he wants the men and women on the force to do one thing under this “new era” above all else.
“I just ask people to do their jobs,” Walker said. “We have to continue to progress to provide the best service possible to our community and a lot of that is through education and just learning. Being able to have an open mind, being able to collaborate, being able to talk and not being rigid.”
Walker says his first order of business is to work on communication within the department and establish strong relationships within the community.