GAFFNEY, SC (WSPA) – There was a resounding applause from the audience Monday when Gaffney Police Captain Chris Skinner was named chief after more than 30 years with the department.
“I feel good,” said Skinner. “I appreciate the council.”
He was one of three final candidates. The other two were North Miami Police Commander Scott Croye and Phillip Sullivan, chief of Abingdon Police Department in Virginia.
Council members heard an emotional appeal from local business owner Alicia McDaniel before making their decision.
“My father always taught me – you don’t fix what’s not broken,” McDaniel said. “Chris Skinner is far from broken.”
She started a Facebook page for Skinner’s supporters.
“I just feel like it would take too long for somebody to come in – a new person – to figure out what spots and where they need to take action,” said McDaniel.
At first, Councilman Bernard Smith suggested the police commander from South Florida. That choice got the support of councilmen Littlejohn and Montgomery.
“Mr. Croye – his credentials were good, they were sound,” said Smith, who chairs council’s police chief committee.“I thought he would have brought more experience – a wider variety of things to the community.”
The rest of council, including Mayor Henry Jolly, opposed the candidate from Miami.
“I did not yield to pressure. I don’t care what anybody says. Captain Skinner can do the job,” said Mayor Jolly. “Personally, I think the administrator should make that decision and it should not be left up to the city council. Of the three candidates brought to the committee without a recommendation, I felt like Captain Skinner’s experience and qualifications far exceeded the expectations of the other candidates.”
The vote to appoint Skinner was unanimous.
“Captain Skinner has always been a good officer,” said Councilman Smith. “All of us united around him because we need to support regardless of whoever gets the position of chief and want to show solidarity that we’re behind him.”
Skinner said he doesn’t want to make major changes but after a year of increased violent crime he wants to build a relationship with the community.
“We’re going to get into the neighborhoods and do some neighborhood policing – just get in there with the people, let them know that we’re there,” said Skinner. “Just going to make sure the citizens of Gaffney are going to be protected.”
The final vote for Captain Skinner was unanimous. He is police chief effective immediately.
Former chief Richard Turner retired at the end of 2017.