June 2000

A. Tony Fisher

Director of Public Safety, Spartanburg, SC

A. Tony Fisher

As a young person growing up in Greenwood, South Carolina, A. Tony Fisher never dreamed of law enforcement as a career goal. Policing historically had been viewed negatively by African Americans. Fisher was determined to change that perception by working within the law enforcement system to advance positive inroads for African Americans. That he did! When he was 33 years old he was appointed Chief of Police of Takoma Park, Maryland. He was the first African American to hold that position, and was featured in various media, including a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, for his outstanding achievements during his ten year tenure. On August 21, 1995, Chief Fisher was appointed Director of Public Safety for the City of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was the first African American to hold this position.

Fisher, the son of John Henry and Estelle Chenault Fisher, was born July 16, 1950, in Greenwood. Early recollections include spending the summers on his paternal grandparents’ farm in Ninety-Six, South Carolina, and his maternal grandparents’ vegetable farm. At an early age, his mother instilled in him, “If you want it and don’t have it, work to get it. Don’t ask for it to be given to you!” After graduating from Brewer High School, Fisher attended Benedict College for one year. In 1969 he moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, and while attending the University of Maryland, from which he received his B.S. in Business Management in 1976, he was hired as a Police Cadet with the Montgomery County Maryland Police Department.

A firm believer that success comes through excellence and professional development, Fisher diligently prepared himself. He was appointed a detective in 1978. In this capacity he could investigate major crimes. In 1982, while he was serving as chair of the National Black Police Association, the organization gained national recognition for its effort to “achieve equality in treatment of minorities by law enforcement agencies.” In March, 1995, he was selected for a fellowship to provide leadership and expertise for the Haitian government in the areas of police training and organizational development.

Since becoming Director of Public Safety for Spartanburg, Fisher has created strong partnerships with all segments of the community. His police division has been awarded national accreditation by the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation. Crime has gone down. The police are effective and they treat people with respect.

Fisher serves his community as a member of many organizations including: Downtown Rotary, United Way of the Piedmont, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He has received many awards and honors, and has been featured in news stories, including the Washington Post, ABC Nightly News, and a United States Information Agency film for global viewing titled, Community Oriented Policing.