PACOLET, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate town went without a police department for months. Now, the Pacolet Police Chief is trying to rebuild the department and restore the community’s trust.

Last fall, the then-Chief-of-Police John Alexander and several police officers resigned in 2022. The town described it as a “time of turbulence.”

Residents were left confused.

“We didn’t understand why, you know, I think they had some kind of meeting and they all walked out, or whatever, and that wasn’t good for the community. What were we supposed to do if we needed help, call Spartanburg?” said Jimmy Humphries.

Months later, things have changed.

“I walked into the police department, and it was literally like a DVD movie. Someone hit pause and walked away, I walked in the door and hit play again and everything began again at full speed,” said Pacolet’s new Police Chief, Joseph Hawes.

Hawes has 23 years of experience in law enforcement and a plan for his community.

“Even considering the controversies that have happened in the past, I’ve been able to staff the department with really good people,” he said.

Hawes said the Pacolet Police Department looks very different these days.

“We have a goal of anytime you meet a Pacolet Police Officer, it should never be for the first time for a bad thing,” he said.

He said a good department starts with valuing your employees.

“So, in your first two years as a sworn-in officer at the Pacolet Police Department, you’ll get a 3,000-dollar bonus and guaranteed raises that have already been approved by your town council,” Hawes said.

He said officers can also track how much they will be making during their career at the department.

Hawes understands it will take time to rebuild a relationship with the community members.

“We cannot put out a blanket statement and say, the police department’s back, it’s time for you to trust us again. We have to go out and relationship to relationship, interaction to interaction, and earn that back,” said Hawes.

During the months when there was no police department functioning, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office responded to all their calls in Pacolet.

To Hawes, it’s all about having a visible and engaging department filled with well-trained men and women.

“I understand what this community has been through, I understand how wounded this community was with the previous administration, those days are over and we’re moving forward,” he said.

Locals 7NEWS spoke with said they’re happy to have a department, once again.

“Thank the Lord for that, we really needed them and especially for us, they’re just right up the road, about a quarter of a mile,” said Humphries.

“It was a little scary at times, but it’s nice to know that Chief Hawes is here now. He’s doing a really good job. We see him frequently here at the restaurant and it’s really nice having that protection,” said Frances Burgess, owner of Phil’s Steakhouse.

Hawes said they are almost fully staffed; they just have one position open now.

The Chief said he is excited to start this new chapter for both the department and the community, his plan, he said, is to stick around for a while.