The City of Charleston Police Department (CPD) is the official police force of Charleston, South Carolina. It is South Carolina's largest police department, besides the state police, in terms of manpower, with 422 sworn officers, 137 civilians and numerous reserve officers and non-sworn volunteers. In July, 2011, the department was re-accredited through 2014 with the Accreditation with Excellence Award by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Replacing the former "Flagship Award," the Accreditation with Excellence Award is the highest single-period accreditation award available. The department also received the Meritorious Accreditation Award in 2011, representing at least 15 continuous years of CALEA accreditation.
The department has a number of operational units, including:Uniform Patrol Division
Central Investigations Division
Special-Activated Units, including the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, the Crisis Negotiation Team, the Explosive Devices Team, the Underwater Recovery Team, the Civil Disturbance Unit, the Disaster Response Team, and the Honor Guard
Forensics Services Division, including the Crime Scene Unit, a Fingerprint Lab, a Crime Lab, a Photo Lab, a Digital Evidence Unit, and a Polygraph Examiner
Computer Crime Unit
Victims Services Unit
Community Services Officer (CSO) Unit, composed of uniformed volunteers who assist the department with various non-enforcement duties
The department manages and maintains its own fleet of vehicles, with ASE-certified mechanics operating an on-site garage. The department also operates a radio shop that programs and maintains the department's radio network and emergency vehicle equipment.
The Charleston Police Department's primary vehicle is the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, and is gradually being replaced by the new Taurus based Ford Police Interceptor. The marked patrol fleet is augmented with the police version of the Dodge Charger, the Chevrolet Impala with the police package, and the new Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle. The Traffic unit uses Crown Victorias and Chargers, as well as Ford Mustangs and Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motorcycles.
The department employs a wide variety of unmarked vehicles for officers assigned to administrative, investigative, patrol, special operations, and undercover assignments. Vehicles used are a mixture of Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford Crown Victorias, and Ford Fusions.
Units serving in the peninsula of Charleston also use Trek police mountain bikes, T3 Motion electric vehicles, and Segway personal transporters.
The Charleston Police Department has several stations.Chief John Conroy Law Enforcement Center - CPD's headquarters and the Communications Center for several city Emergency Services, excluding the Charleston Fire Department (CFD). The Chief Reuben M. Greenberg Municipal Complex, located adjacent to the Chief Conroy building, houses the city's courthouse, the Municipal Court operations offices, the Department of Traffic and Transportation, and a Department of Motor Vehicles office.
Team 1 Office on Meeting Street
Team 2 Office on Wilson Street
Team 3 Office on Wappoo Creek Drive
Johns Island Office at the CFD station on Bohicket Road
Team 4 Office at the CFD station on Bees Ferry Road
Team 5 Office at the CFD station on Seven Farms Drive
Team 7 Office (Traffic Division) on Brigade Street
Crime Prevention Office in the Citadel Mall on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard
Numerous other facilities and offices throughout the community
The headquarters building is the only CPD facility that is staffed 24 hours per day; all others serve as substations and/or business offices.
The Charleston Police Department also has authority over the:Temporary Holding Facility (the modern City Jail was closed in 2007)
Police memorial at Brittlebank Park (across Lockwood Boulevard from the Chief Greenberg Complex)
Charleston Police Department chevrons are royal blue on a black background. Non-commissioned officers also wear one royal blue-on-black hash mark on their lower left sleeves for every four years of service to the department.
The design of an officer's badge also changes by rank.
The titles "Detective" and "Investigator" are based on assignment only. Detectives are assigned to the Central Investigations Division and wear gold badges. Investigators are officers whose primary responsibilities include the investigation of criminal offenses, but who are not assigned to Central.
The position of Patrol Training Officer, or PTO, is bestowed upon experienced officers in the Uniform Patrol Division whose responsibilities include the training and evaluation of new officers upon their graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. The PTO designation is displayed on a pin worn above the officer's name tag. The position of PTO was formerly known as Field Training Officer, or FTO.
The ranks of Probationary Police Officer and Police Officer were formerly known as Private. The rank of Senior Police Officer was formerly known as Private First Class. The rank of Master Police Officer was formerly known as Corporal. While the Charleston Police Department is currently phasing these ranks out in favor of the new command structure, some officers will continue to wear the old rank until they are promoted.
In the early colonial period, police protection for the citizens of Charleston was performed by the Town Watch, a paramilitary unit. After incorporation in 1783, Charleston formally established the City Guard, another paramilitary force. From 1846–1855, the City Guard was reorganized several times and finally emerged in 1856 as a uniformed police force under the administration of Mayor Porcher Miles. Prior to the close of the Civil War, martial law was enacted in Charleston, and the city police force disbanded. Civil police forces were revived and reorganized, however, in 1865 following the election of P. C. Gaillard. These forces served as a counterpoint to the federal authorities until the end of martial law in 1877. The election of Mayor W. W. Sale that same year marked the introduction of a solid city police organizational system of officers and men, divided between the main station and the upper station, a system that was continued by succeeding administrations. On 7 February 1888 a new station was opened at the corner of southeast King and Hutson Streets. In 1895 the State of South Carolina authorities established a metropolitan police and seized control of the organization from January 1896 to 30 September 1897, at which time control was returned to the city. In 1907 a large, modern facility was erected at the northwest corner of Vanderhorst and St. Philip Streets. The police department remained at this location until 1974, at which time they moved to their current location on Lockwood Boulevard.