Former Florence Police chief, alternative charter school founder dies

Former Florence Police chief, alternative charter school founder dies

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Ralph Porter, who served as the City of Florence's Police Chief for nearly 20 years, and later founded a alternative charter school for expelled students, passed away Thursday morning.

Porter was the Florence Police Chief from 1983 to 2000, and was twice the president of the South Carolina Police Chiefs Association.

He also founded the Choices Charter School in 2002, along the Florence County and Darlington County border. It was an alternative school, mostly for kids who had been kicked out of regular school, and wouldn't be attending classes if Choices didn't exist, Porter said back in 2011. Kids learned discipline by attending a boot camp-like orientation before they hit the books.

"So we take the children who have problems behavior-wise, learning-wise, they've had their education interrupted because of personal crisis," Porter explained. "Our crime rate was going up, daytime burglaries were high. Children not in a structured environment left on their own all day long will find things to get into."

"It's a sad commentary that we've decided kids with behavior issues, the way we discipline them, is we kick them out of school, yet they are the kids that need more supervision and more structure," he added. Choices Charter School closed down in 2013.

Allen Heidler, Florence Police Department's current chief, was one of the first three police officers that Porter swore in, Heidler said.

Porter's wife notified the Florence Police Department of her husband's passing Thursday morning, Chief Heidler said.

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