Leadership Profile: Police Chief Carl Ritchie

Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie speaks to his fellow officers about Anderson University's Master of Criminal Justice program
Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie speaks to his fellow officers about Anderson University’s Master of Criminal Justice program

Chief Carl Ritchie was born and raised in the Charleston area, and to him, it is the perfect place to attend school and pursue a career. He knows and loves the Lowcountry. He is a perfect example of someone who has benefited and continues to benefit from advanced studies, training, and degrees. He is an advocate for the career development opportunities offered by the Lowcountry Graduate Center (LGC), and in January 2017 the Criminal Justice program he is now enrolled in through Anderson University will be offered at the LGC in North Charleston.

While in the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Chief Ritchie worked as a Security Police Officer and Special Agent before making the transition to civilian law enforcement. He proudly regards his previous career with the Air Force as a helpful and memorable time. He began his current career as a police officer in North Charleston and obtained an associate degree in Criminal Justice at the Community College of the Air Force. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Strayer University, he also graduated from the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Departmental Management and Leadership. He learned additional leadership and management skills through courses with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. But the ambitious and dedicated Chief Ritchie wanted to learn even more and to achieve even more for the community. The next step brought him to pursue a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice through the Command College of South Carolina at Anderson University. He will graduate in the spring of 2017.

Anderson University’s leadership program is specifically designed to prepare its graduates to move up to middle management or senior executive positions within criminal justice entities ranging from police departments to state and federal law enforcement to corrections facilities. All coursework is focused on best practices and will have a direct, practical application to day-to-day work and career aspirations. The executive instructional format meeting midweek once monthly is well-suited to employers who support this learning experience and grooming of their future leadership.

The Chief speaks highly of his current courses in executive leadership, designed exclusively for law enforcement officials including prison and parole officers at middle-or-higher management levels. His fellow students are all supervisors and commanders and represent all races, both genders, and all age groups beyond their bachelor’s degree.

There are three specific courses that Chief Ritchie finds especially useful: Executive Liability, Media and Political Survival, and Dynamics of Administration. While taking the Executive Liability course, the Pinehurst ruling came down that Tasers cannot be used by police against people who offer passive resistance only. The instructor was able to teach the consequences of this ruling and how it should be immediately applied by officers out in the field. Chief Ritchie would not have understood this ruling fully and right away if he had not been in the course.

Another thing that impresses Chief Ritchie is the exchange among students, who are of different ages and live in different parts of the state and hold different positions. They all learn from each other, he says. In fact, the Chief hopes to eventually teach one or more of these courses, as he has a great deal of both academic and on-the-job experience and wants to share it with other law enforcement professionals. Examples of this include his belief that modern policing requires that police “know their community” so that they will be trusted and respected. He also believes that law enforcement professionals across the board must be sensitive to the times we live in and also understand how the media may sensationalize stories to generate interest. He has confidence that the police can attain a more positive image in highly-charged communities by staying in the same place and letting people get to know them.

In response to the recent public demonstrations that have occurred since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Chief Ritchie commented that it is these individuals’ right to protest; however they do not have the right to be violent, cause harm or destruction to people or property, or block traffic to the point of mass congestion or impairment to public safety.

It is a testament to Chief Ritchie’s determination to attain the Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice that he was willing to travel to Anderson, about 4 hours away, to attend classes two days a month for a year and a half. He has been doing this while performing his duties at a job which is demanding and intense, to say the least. The Chief is very glad that beginning in January 2017, those seeking to further their career in law enforcement will be able to advance with this program in North Charleston at the Lowcountry Graduate Center. They can learn about research methods, roles and responsibilities of leadership, diversity, and many other aspects of the field right here.

By Stancy Merwin