After months of searching, the Bluffton Police Department has a new chief.
Christopher Chapmond — who has been assistant chief in Hot Springs, Arkansas, since 2016 — will begin his new position in Bluffton by Sept. 1, according to a town release sent Monday.
“Town leaders and staff are excited about Christopher Chapmond being hired as Bluffton’s new chief of police,” Mayor Lisa Sulka said in the release. “Throughout the two-month interview process, Chapmond demonstrated the leadership, law enforcement management skills and energy to advance the Bluffton Police Department to a higher level of public safety and community policing within our Town.”
Town Manager Marc Orlando — who was responsible for selecting and hiring the chief — said he believes Chapmond is the right fit for Bluffton to take the department to its next stage of professional growth as an organization.
Sixty-three people applied for the position from all over the country.
Last week during a public forum where the two finalists for the job answered questions from residents, Chapmond said he sees a great deal of potential in the department and wants to lead an agency on the cusp of greatness.
“This is the next step in my professional path, and I want to be a part of an agency that’s going to grow and experience greatness and do the things that others around them are looking to do,” Chapmond said.
At the forum, Chapmond said a chief can’t successfully run a department by sitting in his office, but must get out in the community to build relationships and get involved.
“The partnership between police department and the community needs to be worked on every single day,” Chapmond said.
Chapmond said working with other law enforcement agencies in the area would be a priority for him as chief. He said he wants to build those relationships because when a crisis hits, it’s seldom that only one department handles it.
“I’d spend a great deal of time getting to know my partners, because that’s how you’ve got to look at it, we’re all partners,” Chapmond said.
▪Chapmond is the assistant police chief for the Hot Springs, Arkansas, police department, managing a staff of 145.
▪ He’s been with that department since 1996 in multiple positions including field operations captain, patrol lieutenant, coordinator of the 18th East Drug Task Force, co-commander of the SWAT, detective, public information officer and incident commander. He has a bachelor’s degree in police administration from Columbia Southern University and graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Public Safety Command Staff School.
▪ He is a part-time instructor with the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute and is a firearms instructor, a professional law enforcement instructor and a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events instructor.
▪ Chapmond volunteers on the executive board of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police as the Southwest regional vice president, is a member of the Hot Springs National Park Rotary and coaches and mentors young men in various organizations.
Bluffton has had two chiefs in the past two years, and their tenure hasn’t been without problems.
Joseph Manning— who recently was featured on Investigation Discovery’s “Murder Calls” show in connection with an investigation the department did while he was chief — left the position in May after a controversial nine months. He accepted a job as police chief in Tennessee.
Manning replaced Joey Reynolds in July 2017 after the chief retired. Reynolds also announced his retirement amid controversy.
The town did not post the chief position publicly following Reynolds’ retirement, Orlando previously said. He said no other candidates were considered for the position.
The department was criticized over several issues during Reynold’s time as chief, including overtime bills, officers accused of drinking on duty and an officer making an improper arrest outside Bluffton’s jurisdiction.
Reynolds’ retirement came as The Island Packet was questioning the department about extensive paid absences.
Scott Chandler is currently acting as interim police chief for the department.