BCCC police chief retiresPublished 5:20pm Thursday, September 26, 2013
Beaufort County Community College celebrates the career of its police chief today. Chief Hal Swindell retires Monday with 19 years of service to the college, and 30 years overall to the state.
“It’s been rewarding career. It’s bittersweet to leave—I’ve always loved it,” Swindell said. “But it’s time to move on. I’ve got to close this door; I’ve got others opening for me and I know it’s time to do it.”
Swindell started his BCCC service in what seemed to be a more peaceful era, he said, before the rise in campus shootings across the U.S. At the time, few community college campuses had their own police departments; most preferred to hire security guards or use law enforcement officers provided by other agencies, according to a BCCC press release. The most violent incident Swindell recalls is two students stabbing one another in the middle of the day, and that was shortly after he took on the role of police chief.
“I’ve been here since 9/11 happened, the Columbine shootings and Virginia Tech, which really changed what we do from a law enforcement perspective,” Swindell said. “Prior to those events, law enforcement wasn’t really trained to respond to situations like that. But I think 9/11 scared me more than anything else — the campus sort of stood still that day. After that, we had terrorism training. Our whole profession had to do that.”
Swindell successfully saw his force of five sworn officers through the shift in protocol, but with Monday his last day in office, he’s now shifting his own focus to thoughts of beaches and breezes and travelling to the Caribbean. With19 years of service to the school under his belt, he said he will miss Beaufort County Community College.
“That includes the employees and the students. I love working with the public and I love working with the students. It’s such a diverse place—people from all walks of life, all types of backgrounds. A lot of them struggle here—they have families and jobs on the side. They’re trying to come back and make their lives better, so I’ve really tried to help and be a resource for them, to be service-oriented. That’s how I tried to run the department. I think that makes the situation better for everyone,” Swindell explained.
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today, BCCC will host Swindell’s retirement party in the student lounge of Building 9.
“Beaufort County Community College appreciates the service that Hal Swindell has provided our students, faculty, staff and visitors over the years in ensuring that our campus is a safe and welcoming place to learn, work and visit,” BCCC President Barbara Tansey said in the press release.
Ernie Coleman will serve as interim police chief for the college until a new chief is hired.