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Charleston's new Police Chief hails from Virginia

Associated Press, Aug 5, 2006

Charleston has picked a Virginia lawman to be its top cop after a nearly yearlong search.

Gregory Mullen, deputy chief of the Virginia Beach Police Department, was named the new police chief Friday by Mayor Joe Riley.

Mullen, 46, has worked 21 years in Virginia Beach, rising from a beat cop to become a leader in a department more than twice the size of Charleston's 368-officer police force.

The search attracted more than 137 candidates from across the country.

"I found the right person. Law enforcement is in his blood," said Riley, who interviewed Mullen three times before making his choice.

Mullen, whose father is a policeman and brother is a fire chief in North Carolina, will start work Oct. 1 at a salary of $129,500. He replaces Reuben Greenberg who led the police department for 23 years before retiring last August - two weeks after he was accused of angrily confronting a woman who had called 911 to report the chief's erratic driving.

Interim Police Chief Ned Hethington, who has led the department during the search, will retire when Mullen takes over.

Mullen served as a special agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations before joining the Virginia Beach police in 1985. He worked in patrol, investigations, narcotics, training and has run the department's operations division since March 2005, commanding 475 uniformed officers.

Mullen will confront a wave of violent crime in his new job. Although the overall crime rate in Charleston has been dropping, the city has reported 12 homicides so far this year, compared with 10 all of 2005.

Many of the violent crimes involve guns. There were 65 gun-related assaults in Charleston through May, compared with 52 gun assaults during the same time last year, police said.

Mullins described himself as a "low-key" person and a "lifelong learner" who is not afraid of trying new approaches or admitting mistakes.

The new chief wants to make sure his officers take advantage of crime analysis to find crime hot spots before they become problems. He also wants to focus on crime prevention measures and "drill down" into neighborhoods to identify problem areas and individuals.

"I am willing to do whatever needs to be done to address problems to make this city a better place," Mullen said. "Every citizen deserves to live, work and play in a neighborhood and a community that is safe from crime and the fear that crime creates."