Black Mountain chooses new police chief

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Steven Parker, the police chief in Tega Cay, South Carolina, is set to take over as chief in Black Mountain on Oct. 30.

Steven Parker, the former police chief in Tega Cay, South Carolina, has been chosen by the town of Black Mountain to take over as police chief, starting Oct. 30. 

"In his interview process he was very sharp," said Josh Harrold, the Black Mountain town manager. "We even had a couple folks on the interview panel, that after he left, said they were ready to go work for him now."

Harrold said Parker, 52, stood out to the interview panel, alongside Russell Gilliland, the chief of police in Maggie Valley, as one of two ideal candidates. After Gilliland withdrew his application from consideration, Harrold said the town was happy to make Parker an offer as the new police chief at a salary of $88,000.

Parker began his law enforcement career in Charlotte in 1993, working with the sheriff's department for two years. He transitioned from the larger agency to a smaller department in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 

After 20 years at the Rock Hill Police Department and earning the rank of major, Parker was offered the position of chief in Tega Cay. According to Parker, the budget, manpower and department of the small South Carolina town virtually mirrors that of Black Mountain. 

"My initial plan is going to be to listen to the community, listen to the staff," Parker said. "The biggest thing that I'm going to work on is retention of good police officers and building continued community relationships."

According to Harrold, many departments in the area have experienced problems with retaining officers but Black Mountain has been more fortunate and has not seen much loss. 

The new chief hopes to continue the work already in place by the Black Mountain department, especially that of fostering positive relations with the local community. He said he plans to work with the department and members of the community to determine just what they need. 

"I don't want to come in and say 'I'm going to do this' when I don't know what the needs of the community or the department specifically are," Parker said. "I want to go in there and build that plan with them together." 

In addition to serving the community, Parker said he hopes to serve the officers he works with so as to meet their needs. He sees himself in a type of servant-leadership role. 

"I intend on going in and speaking to every one of the staff that I work with and finding out where they feel that we need to enhance," Parker said. "Wherever I am, we're going to make sure that we put everything into the community."

Enhancing the 'serve' aspect of policing continues to be Parker's priority as he transitions to Black Mountain. He said that oftentimes departments get caught up in the 'protect' and forget the 'serve' part of the job. 

"I am excited to be the police chief," Parker said. "I will serve them in the best capacity possible and they'll have one of the most professional departments in the state of North Carolina."