Officer of the Month October 2000

Chief H. Dean Crisp, J.R.

City of Greer (SC) Police Department

Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Chief H. Dean Crisp, Jr., of the City of Greer’s (SC) Police Department, as its Officer of the Month for October 2000. Chief Crisp was appointed Chief of Police in February 1991, and at 33 years of age, was one of the youngest officers to hold this position.
Dean Crisp believes in teamwork. He has lived his life knowing that as individuals we can accomplish much, but convinced that if we work as a team nothing is impossible to achieve. It is little wonder, then, that the two great loves of his life, other than his family, have been baseball and law enforcement. The son of a police officer, Chief Crisp felt he, too, had a calling to law enforcement, but there was some other important business to take care of first. Two days after his graduation from high school, he began spring training with the Minnesota Twins, and remained with the team for two and one-half seasons.
After leaving the Twins, he served with the Asheville (NC) Police Department and the Buncombe County (NC) Sheriff’s Department, where he rose to the ranks of Captain and Major respectively. As a young patrol officer, he began working with the city’s underprivileged children and in 1983, became the first police officer to ever receive the prestigious National Thomas Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service. That same year he received an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the local community college. Just two years later, while still a full time law enforcement officer, he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Western Carolina University. In 1991 he received his Masters Degree from Western Carolina University in Public Administration and relocated with his wife and their twin sons to Greer, South Carolina, where he had been appointed Chief of Police.
According to officers who were there at the time, the Greer Police Department was held in low-esteem by the citizens it served and by surrounding law enforcement agencies before Chief Crisp arrived. The criminal element in the city was operating with no regard or concern for the law and morale in the department had hit rock bottom. Equipment was in such severe disrepair that it adversely affected the ability of the officers to do their job.
Within one short year, Captain Crisp was able to instill in the men and women of the Greer Police Department, his fervent belief that if they worked as a team they could achieve any goal they set for themselves. As proof of the dramatic transformation that took place, in 1992, one year after the Chief’s arrival, the Greer Police Department received the Southern Bell Award for Excellence. Shortly thereafter the department received its accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) and in 1996 the Greer Chamber of Commerce presented the department with it’s celebrated Chairman’s Award for outstanding service to the community. Chief Greer takes no personal credit for these accomplishments, but rather applauds the team that he led.
Since his early days on the job, the children of the community have always been his main focus. When asked why he takes such an interest in the youth of his community, he states, “While children are only 25% of our population, they are 100% of our future.” Since its inception in 1992 hundreds of at-risk children have benefited from the Summer Police Camp Chief Crisp created. His love for the children of the community has so motivated his officers, that in 1999 they collected enough toys to ensure that more than 300 needy children received holiday gifts.
Perhaps the Chief’s most important contribution to the troubled youth of his community has been the Greer Police/Middle School Suspension Boot Camp. This unique program places children who would otherwise be suspended from school for disruptive or minor criminal behavior, into a Boot Camp for one week. They are taught physical discipline, community service and life skills, while continuing their academic studies. The results have been phenomenal. Each year since the program’s inception, suspensions have been cut by 60%, and crimes on school campuses have declined by close to 90%. This program, which is now receiving national attention, was awarded the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association 1998 Innovations in Law Enforcement Award and was designated as one of the top ten law enforcement projects by the International Association of Chiefs of Police/Motorola /Webber Seavey Award panel.
A tireless advocate of education, Chief Crisp stresses to his police officers the importance of continued law enforcement training and higher education. He has served as the President of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board for Greenville (SC) Technical College since 1994 and was instrumental in the development of its Executive Leadership for Law Enforcement Professionals Certificate Program. He is one of the founding members of the Executive Board of the Rural Executive Management Institute at the University of Arkansas and within his own department instituted the Citizen’s Police Academy and the Media Police Academy. Both these academies have greatly improved the relationship between the Greer Police Department, the media and the community they serve.
So respected is he by his community and the men and women with whom he serves, that the Greer Police Department began the H. Dean Crisp Scholarship at Greenville Technical College, which provides a full two-year scholarship to a graduating high school student interested in pursing a career in law enforcement. Lieutenant Jolene Vancil says of her boss, “As Chief of the Greer Police Department, he has spearheaded remarkable changes that have elevated the department to national standing and recognition. The programs and philosophies instituted by Chief Crisp have not only turned around this department, they have raised the standard of law enforcement in South Carolina and have made the Greer Police Department a benchmark for excellence in law enforcement.”
Chief Crisp is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the South Carolina’s Chief’s Association. He is a graduate of the United States Secret Service Diplomat Protection School, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development program (LEEDS), and 172nd Session of the FBI National Academy.
Police Unity Tour
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.