Changing of the guard
Appointing Harry Sewell to the position of Mount Pleasant Police Chief was a no brainer for Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails and former Mayor Harry Hallman. Hallman told Swails, “He’s a hometown boy who can do the job.”
That was July of 2005.
Seven years later, Sewell has hung up his badge to become the second in command at the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy. He handed over the reigns last Friday to Carl Ritchie, a 24-year veteran of the department.
Amid tears and laughter, a retirement ceremony was held for Sewell, complete with all the pomp and circumstance fitting for such a man.
Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said that the town’s mission has always been to be something bigger than itself, with public service being what leads the way in what truly matters.
“...Words are limited. You don’t truly see what that mission means until it is in action and when someone exemplifies that...,” he said.
And while Sewell will no longer be wearing the uniform of police chief, he will still be there when duty calls as a chaplain, DeMoura explained.
Council members and department heads all spoke on Sewell’s behalf, congratulating him on a job well done and offering special remembrances of their time together. For Councilman John Burn, he recalled their 45 year friendship both personally and professionally.
Council member Linda Page touted Sewell’s unique ability to comfort people in desperate times, making him so good in his new role.
Mayor Pro-Tem Thomasena Stokes-Marshall called the moment bittersweet and described Sewell as a man who exemplified leadership.
Councilman Elton Carrier pointed to the rows of men and women in blue who stood at attention to honor their outgoing chief. Carrier simply said, “No one else in this county can claim this.” He referred to the honor, and success and professionalism of Sewell’s team.
Councilman Ken Glasson touted Sewell’s confidence in wearing his Christianity on his sleeve and said, “God will be stepping side by side with you, always, because of your loyalty to Him.”
Councilman Chris Nickels too lauded praise in regard to Sewell’s true calling. “Spread the Gospel,” he said.
Sewell was honored with gifts from his officers, such as a shadow box adorned with the department patches and the badges he wore while in service to the town’s police department. Cpt. Michael White of the United States Coast Guard bestowed upon him a Certificate of Merit from the Coast Guard and Homeland Security saying, “You can differentiate between a good captain and a great captain because a great captain looks outside the lifeline of their world and those are the greatest leaders.”
Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Herb Williams rose up the ranks with Sewell and choking back tears said that with Sewell’s departure, “It’s like seeing a part of me leave.”
Mount Pleasant Recreation Department Director Ken Ayoub told Sewell that he hoped he would not be too busy in his new profession but knew he was an excellent choice to fill the spot.
New Police Chief Carl Ritchie, also fought back tears as he told stories about their two decade friendship. Standing alongside Ritchie was Captain Amy McCarthy. She called Sewell a “cop’s cop - the epitome of what a chief should be.”
Shortly thereafter, Sewell pinned the department wings on the town’s new police chief, and as Ritchie stood at attention, emblazoned with the his new police chief’s badge, Sewell bid one last farewell to his fellow employees and his “troops.” He then walked hand in hand with his wife and family following, past his cadre of officers for the last time.