Public meets four candidates for Darlington police chief

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - On Wednesday night, the city of Darlington held its second round of interviews for the final two of four candidates for the position of the city's police chief.

While the four candidates have impressive resumes, city manager Howard Garland said how they interact with the community is just as important.

"It's one thing to look at a resume. It's one thing to do a one-on-one interview." Garland said. "How does the candidate for chief of police deal with the public and deal with different questions that they don't know are coming? So it helps tell the manager and the council and mayor a lot about how the person handles a diverse group of people."

The position became open after former police chief Danny Watson retired earlier this month. The city's four finalists are Kelvin C. Washington, of Hemingway; James Hudson, of Hartsville; Kimberly Nelson, of Hartsville; and Julius Riley, of Cheraw.

Nelson currently serves as a lieutenant with the Darlington Police Department. She's worked her way up through the ranks since joining the police department 18 years ago and feels the position is the next best step.

"I've been here my whole law enforcement career. I know the citizens," Nelson said. "I know the needs of the people and I'm ready to get in and help and continue to build a great relationship with them and law enforcement."

Just like Nelson, Riley has spent most of his career working with the Cheraw Police Department and currently serves as administrative captain.

For Riley, he says a good relationship between the community starts with accountability and honesty.

"No one can trust someone that keeps secrets from them. Transparency is a key part to developing trust with any community and when you do that, people will begin to trust you then," Riley said.

On Tuesday night, Darlington residents, council and Mayor Gloria Hines interviewed Hudson and Washington.

Leadership qualities, ways of developing community trust and examples of credentials were some of the topics brought up.

As for Washington, it's about experience. From local departments to federal agencies - he currently serves as a U.S. Marshal for South Carolina -Washington's experience ranges from a prior beat cop to federal law enforcement. It's something he believes puts him at an advantage.

"I've seen how what we deal with on the local level affects what happens in the state, and in addition, to the federal level," Washington said. "I've also had the opportunity to see what happens on the federal level and how it affects the local and state level."

Finally, there's Hudson, who currently works as patrol commander for the Lee County Sheriff's Office. He said a big part of his leadership involves communication.

"Just getting people to trust me, that's the biggest thing in our profession," Hudson said. "We're lacking of trust right now and that needs to be repaired."

Garland said he will decide who to hire as Darlington's next police chief on Thursday.

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