Charleston chief of police candidate accused of "discrimination" against minority co-workers

Little Rock NAACP president called Buckner's relationship with the black community "a little rocky"


Little Rock Chief of Police Kenton Buckner - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF LITTLE ROCK
  • Courtesy of the City of Little Rock
  • Little Rock Chief of Police Kenton Buckner
The five men gunning for the job of Charleston chief of police will meet with City Council and Mayor John Tecklenburg Tuesday morning, but one candidate's past is already raising some eyebrows.

The five candidates for the official position are:

Kenton Buckner, who has has been the chief of police in Little Rock, Arkansas since 2014. He has a master's degree in safety, security, and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University, where he also got his bachelor's degree. The Arkansas Times wrote in July about a letter sent to the Little Rock City Board by the Little Rock Black Police Officers Association. In the letter, the group asks the board "to conduct an independent investigation into the discrimination, inequities, and disparaging treatment of minority officers and supervisors, under the command of Chief Kenton Buckner."

Buckner also came under scrutiny after his department-issued gun was found on the lap of a 20-year-old man when authorities responded to a call of suspicious activity outside of a jewelry store.

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore said he was "surprised" when Buckner told him of his plans to apply for a job in the Holy City. The head of the Little Rock NAACP called Buckner's relationship with the black community "a little rocky" in an interview with The Post & Courier.

Buckner's history is not likely to fare well for many in Charleston, where activist groups recently won a years-long fight to obtain an independent racial bias audit of the Charleston Police Department.

Joseph Clark is the deputy chief of police in Norfolk, Va. He has worked for the Norfolk Police Department since 1986 and has a master's degree in education from Old Dominion University. He has a bachelor's in criminology from Saint Leo University.

Luther Reynolds is an assistant chief of police for the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, where he has worked since 1988. He has a master's degree in business from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor's in criminology from Florida State University.

Michael Sullivan is the deputy chief of police for the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, where he has worked since 2003. He has a master's degree in administration of justice from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree in police administration from the same university.

Lastly, our very own interim police chief Jerome Taylor will be vying for his current position. He has worked for the Charleston Police Department since 1972 and has a master's degree in management from Webster University, as well as a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Southern Illinois.

Chief Mullen took on the job in October 2006 and retired last June. He ended up making $170,000 a year. In his resignation letter, he cited the need to "transition to a new segment of my life's journey."

Tecklenburg soon called Interim Chief of Police Jerome Taylor to the post.

β€œIt is an honor to be called on by Mayor Tecklenburg to lead the Charleston Police Department as interim police chief,” Taylor said at the time of his appointment. β€œI look forward to serving the Charleston community in this capacity, alongside the extraordinary men and women of the CPD.”

The candidate search process was handled by the Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum. Charlotte Lansinger, a consultant with the organization, said that the Forum was "aware" of Buckner's past.

"We do not believe these issues should prevent Chief Buckner from being considered for the City of Charleston Police Chief position," Lansinger said in a statement provided by the city. "In looking over his career, we believe he brings real world experience from two large police departments. He has a very strong resume, and his areas of expertise and experience are impressive. We believe Chief Buckner should have the opportunity to address any concerns regarding his record, and he will be prepared to do so during his visit to Charleston."

All five candidates will meet with city officials at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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