J. H. “Howie” Thompson was appointed the city of Greenville’s police chief during a surprise birthday ceremony at the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center on Friday, Oct. 30.
Thompson, who was named deputy police chief in November 2019, had served as interim police chief since former Chief Ken Miller resigned in December 2019 amid a State Law Enforcement Division investigation.
The city launched a national search for a new chief in February and also conducted internal and external surveys to allow Police Department staff and the community to provide input on the leadership qualities and experience the new chief should have. That search was suspended in late May amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Thompson was initially not in the running for the police chief position, according to City Manager John McDonough.
However, McDonough said the leadership Thompson has demonstrated over the past 10 months convinced city leaders that he was the right person for the job.
“If you look at the list of ‘must-have’ qualities and attributes we included in our recruitment packet, you’ll find that Howie Thompson checks all the boxes,” McDonough said in a release.
“Additionally, the results from the surveys we conducted at the start of our search showed that in addition to having integrity, the ideal candidate should have the support and respect of GPD employees and the community and knowledge of Greenville and its issues. Not only does he embody those characteristics, but after working so closely with the Citizens Advisory Panel on Public Safety over the past few months, we believe Chief Thompson is uniquely qualified to lead the city’s efforts to develop an equitable, collaborative public safety system and ensure that Greenville is a safe and welcoming city for everyone who lives, works and visits here.”
Career started in 1993
Thompson began his law enforcement career in 1993 with the Mauldin Police Department before joining the Greenville Police Department in 1997. He rose through the ranks, serving in a variety of capacities including field training officer, vice and narcotics detective, SWAT team commander and lieutenant of special operations/vice & narcotics, where he leveraged partnerships with SLED, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
He also served as lieutenant over Uniform Patrol, where he supervised a platoon and represented the Greenville Police Department at neighborhood and business association meetings, identifying trends and developing strategies to enhance crime prevention efforts in the community.
In 2015, he became a member of the department’s command staff as captain of the Support Division, which includes traffic, warrants, school resource officers, SWAT and the Crisis Negotiation Team. He also served as captain of the Operations Division.
Thompson received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in Criminal Justice from Anderson University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police. He is also a member of Leadership Greenville Class 42.
Thompson has earned numerous awards throughout his career, including James Perone Officer of the Year, 13th Circuit Alcohol Enforcement Officer of the Year, GPD Supervisor of the Year and GPD Medal of Valor. Additionally, Thompson recently received the Alumnus of the Year award from Anderson University’s Jeffery D. Black Command College of South Carolina.