The newest member of the Bluffton Police Department reported for duty Oct. 12.
Chief Stephenie Price, who until recently served as Savannah’s assistant chief of police, was sworn in by Town Manager Marc Orlando in a brief ceremony at the department’s headquarters in Buckwalter Place.
Although she is the town’s first woman chief of police, Price said she doesn’t usually think of herself as a woman police chief because being a police officer doesn’t know any gender.
“But I’ll tell you right now it feels really good to be the first female police chief, because it feels good to be the police chief in Bluffton,” said Price after the ceremony.
The new chief has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, most of it in the Kansas City, Mo., police department, where she served in patrol, property crimes, internal affairs, domestic violence, narcotics and vice, the regional training academy, and fiscal services, according to the town’s press release announcing her selection in September.
In that announcement, Orlando said Price was chosen because she has the conviction and compassion needed to serve as Bluffton’s chief of police.
As the assistant chief of police for Savannah, Price supervised the administration and management bureau of the department which includes the budget, canine unit, collateral duty, emergency management, fleet services, mounted patrol, recruiting, technology, traffic division and training.
While living in Savannah, Price and her family made frequent visits to Bluffton and Hilton Head Island.
“I love Bluffton,” she said. “Before I even applied here, I would find any excuse I could to come here. I would come here with my husband, whether it was shopping on Hilton Head, going biking on the many bike paths, dining in the restaurants. And I looked at him one day and I said, ‘Hey, they’re hiring for a police chief.’ With his encouragement, really the encouragement of my family, I decided Bluffton would be amazing. I do love the Lowcountry.”
Her immediate plans as the new chief are to observe and evaluate, see what’s going on, see what the values are of the police department. She also plans on connecting and communicating with the community.
Price is married with two teenage children. Her husband, Chris, pinned her new chief’s badge on her after he held the Bible during the swearing-in.
Price took over the reins from Capt. Scott Chandler, who was appointed interim chief following the resignation of former Chief Chris Chapmond in June.
At the end of the ceremony, after thanking Chandler for his leadership and support, Orlando spoke to the audience.
“To all the faces I see in front of me, the police department, personnel and Bluffton employees, thank you for your persistence. Thank you for your dedication to this town. Stay focused. Stay disciplined,” he said. “You have a great new chief. We interviewed a whole bunch of people. I expect you and ask you to keep moving in the great direction that you are already going in, and I know that Chief Price will support you and that movement in that direction.”
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.