Joe Nates is stepping down as Irmo police chief after 19 months overseeing law enforcement in the town of 11,000 residents.
Nates, 53, said it’s time to do something else after 20 years as a police officer, then chief, in the community straddling the border of Lexington and Richland counties.
“I had a good run,” he said. “I’d like to get a job that’s something different.”
Nates went into law enforcement after a banking career that included working with police.
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“Once you’re in a car with blue lights and a siren on, you like it or not,” he said. “I was hooked.”
Shortly after becoming chief, Nates dealt with two officers shooting a man involved in a domestic dispute. Both officers were cleared of impropriety by prosecutors who reviewed the incident, he said.
The highlight of his time in law enforcement, he said, was helping to solve a string of deliberately set fires in and around the town 10 years ago. More than two years later, a woman entered a guilty but mentally ill plea to 13 counts stemming from the fires that destroyed four homes and damaged other houses and property in Richland and Lexington counties.
His decision to retire surprised town leaders, who had hoped for a longer tenure.
“He let us know he had other things he wants to do,” Mayor Hardy King said. “I surely wish he would stay. Whatever he would say, I trusted. He doesn’t pull any punches.”
Town Council members promoted Assistant Chief Don Perry to lead the 25-officer force after Nates departs at the end of the month.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483