Reuben M. Greenberg

At a time when the actions and behavior of law officers in the United States are coming under increasing scrutiny from the media, Reuben M. Greenberg receives more publicity than most, and for all the right reasons. Chief of Police of the Charleston Police Department since 1982, Greenberg’s innovative methods of combating crime have been of enormous benefit not only to the historic port city of Charleston, South Carolina, but also to the nation as a whole. Greenberg’s formula for success and his message is that “someone cares.” This is easier said than done but it works in Charleston, according to Greenberg, because the city council has given a high priority to public safety and because the police force itself is a highly visible unit. Constant police surveillance of businesses reassures people that their buildings are secure after hours. Graffiti is removed from walls and pathways as soon as it is detected and domestic disputes are routinely recorded. Recognizing that most criminals are under the age of 35, Greenberg has created a young and energetic police force, equipping his officers with running shoes so that they have a better chance of apprehending suspects who are caught in criminal acts. Greenberg has a powerful message for felons. “People who are most likely to commit violent acts are those who have done it before. This is our turf, not yours,” he warns criminals. A firm believer in the formation of strategies for crime prevention, Greenberg’s philosophy on crime fighting has been expressed through his writings and his appearances on national television. His book, Let’s Take Back Our Streets, published in 1989, is a reference for police forces across the nation. He has explained his tactics ands strategies on television programs like 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, The Phil Donahue Show, The Today Show, Both Sides with Jesse Jackson, and the McNeil/Lehrer News Hour. He has authored a number of police-related articles and has appeared as a guest columnist for several newspapers, most notably the Detroit News. Greenberg’s credentials for the job of city police chief are impressive. In 1967, he received a BA degree from San Francisco State University and he has two masters degrees, one in public administration and the other in city planning, both from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught sociology at California State University, political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and criminal justice at Florida International University. His career in law enforcement spanned three states before he arrived in South Carolina in 1982. While in California, he served as the undersheriff of the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department. A Savannah, Georgia, he was a major with the city’s police department. In Florida, he was chief of police at Opa-Locka and chief deputy sheriff of Orange County, rising to deputy director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Greenberg holds memberships in many law enforcement organizations such as the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and an officer of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Association. He is also a board member of the South Carolina Commission on Racial Relations, the South Carolina Crime Victims Compensation Board and the South Carolina Sentencing Commission. Greenberg has received numerous honors and awards, such as the 1989 Achievement Award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice. Two years later, he was named Justice Professional of the Year by the Southern Criminal Justice Association. For distinguished success in fighting crime, the Freedom Forum presented him with its 1994 Free Spirit Award. The city of Charleston’s decision to make Reuben Greenberg its top law enforcement officer has paid immense dividends. His strategies have made Charleston’s citizens safer in their homes and on their streets.