NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Reggie Burgess took part in one last act Monday before retiring as police chief from the North Charleston Police Department – swearing in his last police officer.
“When I walked through the door at old City Hall in 1989, I knew that I wanted to be a police officer. I wanted to be on the SWAT team, which I became a SWAT Commander,” he said. “And I just wanted to go out and save the day – I wanted to jump through a window and stop a bad guy from hurting a good person.”
Burgess spent much of his last day hugging those he’s worked with at the department for the past several years. He also welcomed a new officer to the force.
As part of a racial bias assessment the department completed, they decided to try to find native Spanish-speaking police officers to bring to the department from Puerto Rico.
“We decided to go to Puerto Rico to recruit, and we went out there. We recruited and we brought back the best that we could bring. And Stephen is our first of the Puerto Rican officers that we recorded last year,” he explained.
Patrolman Steven Rivera was sworn in Monday. He will be able to community with Spanish-speaking residents.
“For me, it’s my life. I always feel, since I was a little kid, my father was a correctional officer. He just retired. So, for me, it’s very important, because I feel like I need to serve the public. I need to be there for the person who cannot protect themselves,” said Officer Rivera.
It’s something Burgess found familiar.
“Now, I had to swear in the person that’s going to be doing what I wanted to do in ’89. And it feels good to pass the baton to a person like-minded. Steven’s a great guy, he was a great officer in Puerto Rici. He’s going to be an even greater officer here in the city of North Charleston,” said Burgess.
Chief Burgess announced his retirement in order to run for mayor of North Charleston. Assistant Chief Greg Gomes was named chief of police. He was sworn in on Friday.