GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville Police Chief Howie Thompson has announced that he is retiring.

Thompson has served in law enforcement for 29 years. He began his career at the Mauldin Police Department but has spent the past 26 years with Greenville Police. His last day on the job will be Friday, June 30.

“I’ve had a great career, I’ve done everything I wanted to do,” Thompson said, “including working vice and narcotics units and commanding SWAT.”

Thompson said what stands out most is the people.

“I’m proud of the dedicated and professional officers and administrative staff that strive to keep Greenville safe. In 2022, the City of Greenville recorded the lowest number of violent crimes in a decade. This is a direct reflection of the teamwork among officers and partnerships with other law enforcement agencies,” he said.

He also credits that in part to a program he hopes to see continue when he leaves, called ‘The Neighborhood Engagement Team’.

He said officers are placed in neighborhoods to patrol and be a point of contact for troubled areas.

Thompson said policing has evolved and progressed in positive ways throughout his career. Officers are encouraged to maintain a professional demeanor, be thorough in their investigations, listen carefully, and assist victims and their families with follow-up care.

“These officers that work here today, they are the best group of officers I have ever worked with,” Thompson said. “They really take their time. They love their job. I am so proud of them and the work they do every day.”

Thompson said working with nearly a full staff, that’s well trained and professional has made his job smoother.

He said while many departments are losing officers, Greenville police have not had that issue. 

“We have been able to recruit some of those officers from different agencies to come here,” Thompson said. “They will have six, eight, ten years’ experience. That is great experience they have. We get them here and they slide right into the job.” 

While Greenville has seen a lot of success with their police department, Thompson said certain times in his career have been more difficult than others.

“We faced times that nobody else has ever seen before,” Thompson said. “You go back to 2020 when you had things going on across the nation. George Floyd’s death and the protests. We had protest here. We had never had issues like that before. Covid, and the issues with Covid, where a lot of things shut down but the police department didn’t. We are a 24/7 365 operation.”

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office also released the following statement about Thompson’s retirement:

“Upon hearing the news of the retirement of Greenville Police Chief Howie Thompson, our office was filled with many emotions- shock, sadness, and, most importantly, gratitude.

Chief Thompson dedicated 29 years of his life to serving people in the community; however, the last few years of his tenure proved to be the most important in his decorated career. Chief Thompson revamped the Greenville Police Department from the ground up and built it on the foundation of trust, professionalism, and high moral character. Chief Thompson’s greatest strength was that of relationship. He managed to forge relationships with community members of agency leaders like none other, and the camaraderie established between the Sheriff’s Office and the Greenville PD is that of a brother and sisterhood.

While we are losing a good one today, we are gaining a new precedent and standard for all law enforcement leaders in this state and around the country. Our hat is off to you, Chief Thompson; we will miss you deeply and we will close this statement with one word, Thanks.”

Greenville County Sheriff’s Office

“I am proud of the relationships we have built with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, non-profits, neighborhood leaders, and our citizens. Its personal relationships that prevent crime, promote safety, and enhance the quality of life,” Thompson said.