by Paul Bowers
North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt announced his plans to retire yesterday after 11 years with the department.
In a letter to Mayor Keith Summey announcing that he plans to retire Jan. 31, Zumalt wrote, "You and the City Council have supported me in good times and tough times, and together we have made the City of North Charleston a safer place to live."
Zumalt was with the police department in 2007 when a controversial report from CQ Press based on FBI statistics ranked North Charleston as the seventh-most dangerous city in America in terms of crime per capita. Police questioned the statistical validity of the report, which ranked North Charleston as more dangerous than Memphis, Tenn.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Compton, Calif. By the time 2010's CQ rankings came along, North Charleston was down to No. 63. In 2011, according to FBI statistics, there were 653 violent crimes (one for every 151 people) in North Charleston, down from 1,561 (one for every 57 people) in 2007.
2007 was also the year when NCPD adopted a new procedure called CompStat wherein police leaders meet every week to study a map of where crimes took place, look for patterns, and adjust their patrols accordingly. (Read more about CompStat and modern predictive policing techniques here.) North Charleston was also one of the first police departments in the state to begin mapping its crime data publicly via RAIDS Online.
In a letter notifying North Charleston City Council of Zumalt's retirement plans, Mayor Summey wrote:
For 11 years, Jon has led this department to heights of professionalism rarely seen in agencies today. Our department is a much more professional and equipped organization than ever in the forty years of the City's history.
According to the City of North Charleston website, Zumalt began working in law enforcement in 1980, when he joined the Wichita (Kansas) Police Department as a reserve officer. He served 21 years there and held numerous command positions before being chosen in a nationwide search to head up the North Charleston Police Department in 2001.