Finalists for City of Darlington Police Chief

Kelvin C. Washington

James Hudson

Julius Riley

Kimberly Nelson














By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

During two sessions this week the citizens of Darlington had the opportunity to get to know the four candidates for chief of police. The candidates were Kelvin C. Washington of Hemingway, James Hudson of Hartsville, Kimberly Nelson of Hartsville and Julius Riley of Cheraw. Two candidates spoke each night, with time allowed for the citizens in the audience and council to ask questions. What follows is a brief overview of the meetings. Candidates appear in the order that they spoke.

James Hudson is currently a patrol commander for Lee County Sheriff’s Office. He has 22 years of law enforcement experience.

Hudson said that as a former police chief in neighboring Hartsville he understands that respect doesn’t come with the office, it must be earned.

“When I was in Hartsville I was asked by council what some of the things were that I were wrong,” Hudson said. “I told them that we had a racism problem and the room was quiet. I said that there was a racism problem and it needed to be addressed. That changed everything; it was like I had gained their respect. That is something that I try to teach the young men that come into our profession: you have to earn people’s respect. I will be able to earn you guys’ respect if I am hired for this position. That is part of my job. I’m not just going to say ‘Here I am, I’m the Chief, I’m James Hudson’, I need to earn your respect and you need to know that you can trust me.”

Hudson said that as a resident of Darlington County he has seen that strained race relations exist outside of the City of Hartsville.

“It is not just about seeing how many people we can lock up so we can put our stats out and say that we have reduced crime,” Hudson said. “How do you reduce crime? You reduce crime by… communicating, working together, putting the color barrier aside and making this work for everybody because until we do that, we are going to have issues. I live in Darlington County; this is my home. I want to see us have a safer community. I want to see us be able to work together, I want us to be able to eat together, play together, regardless of whatever social status you may come from…what neighborhood you come from…how much education you have. I think it is very important for us to put those things aside and look at it for what it is. We are all people of color and we belong here. We need to work together and if we can do that, I know you’ll see success.”

Hudson acknowledged that the community and the police department must work together if any real change is going to occur.

“The real law enforcement officer, the people who don’t have badges, those people are the real police,” Hudson said. “The people who are certified through the State of South Carolina, we are an extension of that. We try to deter things before they happen but we can’t always do that, it just don’t work that way all the time. One of the things I would like to do, if I’m appointed to this position, is I would like to educate the public on what law enforcement is all about, what we can do as an officer. What bylaws and guidelines we have to abide by.”

Hudson said that he would like a department full of police officers, not just law enforcement officers.

“The difference between a law enforcement officer and a police officer is that the police officer is more community oriented,” Hudson said. “His or her job is to go out and mend fences, build bridges, help bring people together. Everybody doesn’t need to go to jail…you have to understand those things while doing this job.”


Kelvin C. Washington is currently the presidentially appointed U.S. Marshal for the District of South Carolina. He has more than 28 years of public safety leadership and administrative management experience.

Washington said that after eight years working for the federal government, he wants to get back to his roots.

“My term will expire later this year and my goal is to find an organization in the Pee Dee area or Grand Strand area and go back to my original desire, which is policing, working with people in the community and making their community better,” Washington said.

Addressing what he called ‘elephants in the room’, Washington said that Darlington is not very different from other communities.

“I came here not knowing that there are some issues here but this agency isn’t the only agency with issues,” Washington said. “There are a lot of communities with issues. This department isn’t any different. All communities need people who care about those communities. One of the things that I found out about leadership is that in order to lead people, the first thing you have to do is you have to have a genuine love for those people you are trying to lead…You can’t serve people that you don’t have a genuine care for.”

Washington said that policing at its core needs to be about knowing that people you serve and how they can best be served.

“They put fancy names on these community-policing programs but at the end of the day, they are all the same,” Washington said. “It is getting out of your car, going into those communities and meeting with those folks and meeting the needs of the people that you serve. It is simple; that’s all it is.”

With a lot of unrest across the country, Washington said that the community needs to buy in to what the police are doing but that the police also need to be accountable for what they’re doing.

“There are a lot of things that are going on across this country as it relates to law enforcement, our interactions with the public and you have to have accountability,” Washington said. “The officers have to be accountable to the chief, the chief has to be accountable to council, the mayor, the administrator and they have to be accountable to you all. Which means all of us are accountable to each other. No matter what type of problem you have in any community, it is not just a police problem; it is a community problem. The police cannot do what they do without some involvement from the public. You cannot expect people to go into your community and fix your problems. You are going to have to buy in. Sometimes people get a little offended by that but it is what it is.”

Washington said that he would like to see the community come together on their common ground rather than standing on their differences.

“At the end of the day whether we are white, black, old, young, rich, poor, we all want the same thing and that is a safe, comfortable living environment for our families to flourish in,” Washington said. “I’ve always been of the opinion that instead of focusing on our differences, let’s start the conversation off on what we agree on. Then we can build upon that and go from there. If we start the conversation on what we disagree on, we are never going to get anywhere.”


Julius Riley is currently the administrative captain for the City of Cheraw Police Department. He has 26 years of law enforcement experience.

Riley said that if he were to be named chief, he would make sure that the police officers understand how they are to interact with the community.

“Everyone knows that police officers are law enforcement but, more than that, we are peace officers,” Riley said. “That is what we drive into the mindframe of our officers. We are there to serve the community and to be part of the community. I have spent the last 26 years of my law enforcement career with the Cheraw Police Department trying to make sure that we do just that, to treat everyone equally under the law. The only way that you can do that is to have the message set firmly from the top all the way to the bottom man.”

Riley said that he has experience establishing community crime watch programs, which is something that Darlington City Council has a desire to accentuate within the city, according to City Manager Howard Garland.

“What was going on in Cheraw is we were having problems with juveniles,” Riley said. “This persisted for quite a while and different neighborhood and community meetings began to take place. They expressed to the mayor, the police chief and myself that they wanted to do something about it. In talking with them, we started a community crime watch.”

Riley said that the program started small and has since branched out.

“We started the initial one with me being over it in the Foundry Hill area,” Riley said. “That was a very high crime area but we had mostly citizens there that were older and they didn’t feel safe anymore. We soon established other crime watch areas and now we are up to four. We do monthly meetings and we let them know what has been going on in their area and what to look for. They have my number and they have been instructed to call me anytime, day or night. If there is something going on, I want to know about it because that is the only way we can do something about it.”

Riley said that getting citizens involved has allowed them to slow the crime in those areas.

“We have posted signs up in the different areas to let people know that these are crime watch areas,” Riley said. “As I told them, the signs themselves will do no good if they don’t participate. The sign cannot call any…or notify the police. They have been really receptive to that. Since we have instigated these crime watch zones, we have seen a noted decrease in vandalisms and car thefts. It is working and they are getting their neighborhoods back.”

Riley also said that he believes that transparency is extremely important for a police department’s relationship with the community.

“Transparency has to be at the forefront of any police department,” Riley said. “How can you trust someone that doesn’t tell the truth? How can you trust someone that hides things from you? You can’t… If you aren’t trying to hide anything, there is no need to hold anything back.”

Kimberly Nelson is currently a lieutenant with the Darlington Police Department. She has more than 18 years of law enforcement experience. Nelson is the only female candidate.

“When I started out here, I went to the academy and by being the size that I am a lot of people didn’t think that I’d make it through the academy but I made it,” Nelson said. “I worked my way up through the rank…A lot of people didn’t think I’d still be here but I am.”

Nelson said that she would like to continue to serve the people of Darlington, with the new challenge of the office of Chief of Police.

“You’ve heard a lot of impressive people come up here with a long resume about what they have done and how they accomplished in their life,” Nelson said. “Well, I would like that same opportunity to advance my career. I would like that same opportunity to build new relationships here with the citizens of Darlington.”

Nelson said that being a candidate from within the department, she knows what things need to be improved upon and what is working.

“What I learned from one of my mentors is that hard work pays off,” Nelson said. “If you work hard, it will pay off. I’ve put my time in with the community here. A lot of the ones who spoke before me, they said they had to do an assessment of the police department. As I go in, if I assume the role as police chief, I will look in to things and see how things are run and done and said but I have already a foundation of what needs to be done and there are some things that needs to be done. We need to work together to accomplish those things.”

Nelson said that she believes that there needs to be a good working relationship between the police department, council and city administration.

“Working together with council is one of my goals,” Nelson said. “Working with the city manager is one of my goals to further this department to go to a whole other level. In order to be a good leader, you have to be a good follower. I think I was a good follower and I believe I will be a good leader if I’m given the chance.”

Having worked as a school resource officer and a community outreach officer, Nelson said that she has a passion for children.

“Two of my passions are children and law enforcement,” Nelson said. “Children don’t stay children forever so when we’re raising children, we’re raising adults that are going to become productive members of society or they’re going to become non-productive members of society. My goal is to try to teach every child, to let them know that they are somebody and that they can affect society by doing positive things and even if they made a mistake, it’s not over.”

One of the programs that she implemented to help create that positive role model for children was Project Intercept.

“One thing that I can bring to this department, that I have brought to this department, is that I’ve built a relationship through community policing,” Nelson said. “One of the programs that I love is Project Intercept. When we did Project Intercept it was in the summer time with some children that were having some behavioral and academic problems…We were able to pull up statistical data that actually showed that these children’s behavior and grade had improved after completing this program.”

Author: mrollins

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