Walterboro public safety chief fired Friday, officials confirm

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCIV) -- Walterboro's public safety chief was relieved of his duties Friday morning, officials confirmed.{}

A statement issued by the city says Rhodes' policies helped bring crime to some of its lowest levels in 20 years and got the city's fire rating to ISO 3, but the city needed to move forward in a new direction.

A story initially filed by the Post and Courier says City Manager Jeff Lord made the decision to dismiss Rhodes.

City Manager Jeff Lord said Rhodes did a great job over the last 9 years as chief of the department, adding that Rhodes had served the city for 21 years. He said the change in leadership came because officials wanted to take their safety efforts further.

"It was just time for new leadership in the department. He's done great things bringing the dept forward, but it was time to have someone else come in and carry it forward," Lord said.

Lord said the decision to fire Rhodes was not a sudden one.

"This is a personnel matter and there are only so many things I can get into," Lord said. "We do honor Otis for all he's done for city last 21 years. He's done great things. It's time for someone else to come in and move forward."

Lord said recent crime activity in the city is always a consideration when deciding to change leadership, but said the decision to fire Rhodes was about a "change in perspective."

Lord said the new chief would be engaged in the community.

"This is not going to be quick," he said.


The city issued this statement Friday afternoon:

"Otis Rhodes, who has served the City of Walterboro for the past twenty one years and has spent the last nine as chief of police and public safety director, has been relieved of his duties there, effective today. {}

"During his tenure, important changes helped to move the Public Safety Department forward. Rhodes implemented combining the police and fire departments into one department; responded to a sharp increase in violent crime and helped to bring it down to some of the lowest levels in twenty years; and recently achieved an ISO 3 fire rating.

"City Manager Jeff Lord noted, 'We are grateful to Otis for his contributions, but the time has come for someone else to continue the progress that has been made and to pave the way for even more in the future. There's work to be done, and I am confident the City and its citizens will be best served by new leadership in the Public Safety Department.'

"Major Ken Dasen, Assistant Public Safety Director, who has been with the department 15 years, will serve as Acting Director until an Interim Director is in place."