“It’s time to get to work,” said the City of Greenville’s newly appointed police chief — Marcus Turner.
At a special called meeting held Friday, the Greenville City Council named Turner as the acting Chief of Police effective this past Monday.
Mayor Errick Simmons, who extended his congratulations to Turner on Tuesday, stated, “It is my hope that the people of Greenville embrace him and join the city council in giving him and his family a warm welcome.”
“The most pressing issue we face and what truly matters now is the work ahead of us: making our communities safer and stronger,” Simmons pointed out. “Law enforcement alone cannot solve the challenges we face, but the hardworking men and women of the Greenville Police Department are integral to combating violence.”
Turner has more than 23 years of law enforcement experience and is no stranger to GPD — he began as a dispatcher with the City of Indianola and after a few years, moved to Greenville to start his patrol.
“I began in the patrol division here back in the early 2000s and since that time, I’ve just been trying to work my way up through the ranks and learn as much as I possibly can,” Turner said. “Even though being in law enforcement is an ever-learning experience, that’s where the foundation began.”
Prior to being appointed as chief, Turner acted as Chief of Public Security for the Greenville Public School District for four years.
When asked, “Why this role?” Turner’s response was, “It’s every officer’s dream to one day come back to the place where he began his law enforcement career.”
He said in addition to that, “Leading the people and encouraging them as well as being able to have a voice, taking everything that you’ve experienced and learned and implementing it into new officers, especially the future officers who are coming in right now is an overwhelming feeling.”
Summarily, Turner asserted he is glad to be in a position where he can affect change.
As chief of police, what he declares as the overarching goal for the department, is reestablishing the relationship between the community and the police department.
“That’s one of my ultimate goals and also training the officers to be more of community servers rather than being looked upon as authoritative figures,” Turner said. “Of course we know that police are the authority in the community, but we don’t want to forget how important it is for us to serve. So that’s one of the areas that I would love to put more focus on — servanthood.”
On how the existing goals of the department can be furthered, he said, “I believe the most vital aspect of that is being more visible in the community and finding out the needs of the community.”
Turner alluded to the public outcry, even locally, for what is considered “good police” and policing.
“We have to feed more into that and we have to feed more into becoming more relatable with the citizens in our town and the best way to do that is to establish relationships,” he said. “It’s difficult to have a relationship with someone and you never talk to them.”
“Even if it’s not in our favor, we still have to be transparent and we want to be able to support the community whenever it’s in need as well as coming to their aid in areas where we have already been chosen to do so.”
Turner’s appointment comes at a time when there is an especially heightened demand for solutions to the problems that are gun violence and an increasing homicide rate.
Acknowledging as much, Turner said even from that perspective, it’s up to the leadership to put what may be broken back together — an onerous charge, but a necessary one.
“I guess you could somewhat call it a severed relationship between the community and police,” Turner described of the current state of relations between law enforcement and those it has been charged to protect. “We can complain and gripe all day, but at the end of the day, what are the solutions to the problems we have?”
Part of the solution, Turner said, is coming to the table and being able to agree to disagree sometimes, but in the end, work it out for the greater good.
Such a philosophy speaks to Turner’s relationship development style and his approach to problem solving.
“My approach is respecting all persons in their positions and understanding what their role is. The Bible tells us in all thy getting, we must get an understanding,” he pointed out. “And if we’re going to make decisions for the betterment of our community, we have to understand which causes us to be more transparent.”
Turner added, “In order for there to be transparency, there has to be communication and in relationships there has to be communication. Once we respectfully lay down all of our different views, coming together for the solution should be a whole lot easier than it has been.”
His approach, quite possibly may have been what set him apart from other candidates.
Turner attributes his efficiency in law enforcement to his ability to partner with different entities and resources along with his capacity to pull people together for a common purpose.
“And it’s not just about pulling people together, but the expectation of results,” he noted. “We can meet all day long but if nothing comes of it, then it’s fruitless. I’m looking for the fruit.”
By no means did Turner think he had the chief of police appointment in the bag — he was rather surprised by it because of his certainty that fellow applicants were well qualified.
He said of the council, “But for them to see enough in my character and what they know of me at this point, it was an overwhelming joy that they actually had the confidence to choose me for such a time as this.”
Simmons also extended thanks to all the candidates who embraced the challenge of working for the City of Greenville, adding, “I look forward to working with Chief Turner and look forward to new strategies in action in the months ahead. Working together, we will strive to make Greenville one of the safest cities in our region, state and country.”