One frequent component of growth, unfortunately, is more crime. During the five years that John Gregory has been chief of the Rock Hill Police Department, the terrain that his officers must cover and the challenges to his department have changed dramatically.
Thankfully, Gregory has provided the astute leadership needed to adapt to those challenges and to find innovative ways to keep the community safe. During his tenure, the department has added 15 officers, and, in the process, made the force more diverse -- doubling the number of blacks in the 166-member department.
The department has focused more on community policing and has upgraded technology in nearly every category. This month, for example, the department received a grant to buy electronic citation writers that will allow officers to scan driver's licenses and produce tickets electronically.
Every officer now carries a Taser. Traffic, street crime and patrol cars now are outfitted with digital cameras and new mobile data terminals that allow officers in the field to pull up information whenever they need it.
Gregory established a mobile command center for use at crime scenes. He also initiated the department's crime strategy -- dubbed CompStat -- that uses data to track crime trends and deploy officers accordingly.
Under Gregory's leadership, the department's Weed & Seed program has focused on cleaning up five crime-ridden neighborhoods and recruiting residents of those neighborhoods to work with police on minimizing crime.
City Manager Carey Smith, who hired Gregory as the city's first black chief in 2003, praises his character and integrity. Members of the department and city officials who work with Gregory echo those sentiments.
But Gregory is looking forward, not backward:
"I have a lot I still want to accomplish in Rock Hill. This agency has moved forward. Its future is looking bright."
Thanks to his fine leadership over the past five years, the community has reason to share his optimism.