Irmo Police Chief Brian Buck bids farewell to the department Friday after 27 years on the force.
Buck, who has served as police chief since 2005, announced his retirement from that post last week.
Capt. Joe Nates, a department veteran of 19 years, will be sworn in as the new chief next week.
Buck began his career with the town of Irmo as a police explorer when he was in high school. He was hired as a patrol officer after graduating in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of South Carolina.
Before being named chief, he was promoted to corporal, investigator, sergeant and captain.
Buck spoke this week about his passion for the job and his plans for the future.
What initially motivated you to pursue a career in law enforcement?
“I had a mentor while in high school who was working for the Irmo Police Department and had previously served with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. One of the things that stuck with me that he said is a police officer learns a little bit about a lot of different things, not a lot about just one thing. Because of needing to deal with many different people ... I would be challenged to learn a lot of different things in order to understand different people and different crimes.”
How do you feel your professional goals have been realized?
“The Irmo Police Department has evolved into a professional, responsive police department. All of the officers here have worked together to maintain their certifications, departmental accreditations, and build the department into an agency that the Irmo community can count on to remain fair but sensitive to the community. We also have tried to integrate technology into the department without losing our ability to talk to people. Personally, I have attempted to maintain my professional education on the current best practices in law enforcement and in government so that I can balance community protection with the rights of the individual.”
What is one of your most memorable experiences as a road officer through the years?
“There have been so many memorable experiences, some funny, some gratifying and some terribly sad. I have great satisfaction from solving cases as an investigator. Returning family heirloom jewelry to burglary victims really helped me continue to come to work. Seeing the relief on an assault victim’s face when I was able to tell them their attacker was in jail was inspiring. Having to tell families that their loved one was not coming home either as a result of a collision or through violence is heartbreaking.”
What have you learned most through your experiences as an officer and eventually as chief?
“A couple of the more memorable things: The police deal with people all day, every day. But, for the victims, witnesses and others with whom we are working, that is the first, and perhaps only, time they will deal with the police. I’ve also come to appreciate how important communication is to the job we do. It is what we say, how we say it, and what we do after we say it that will make or break our success. The job of a police officer is a people job. We have to be able to talk to and work with all different kinds of people.”
You’ve likely had opportunities to pursue other jobs in other jurisdictions. What are some of the things that have kept you in Irmo the entire time?
“I have been very blessed that Irmo has provided all of the professional challenges and growth to keep me satisfied for my entire career. I grew up in the Irmo area and graduated from Irmo High School. I feel attached to the Irmo area and loved being able to spend my career here.”
What are some of the things you'll miss most about the job? And the least?
“I will miss the people with whom I have worked and the people that I have served. I’ll miss the camaraderie that transcends departments that police officers all over the world enjoy with each other. I’ll miss the satisfaction that comes from helping people who don’t know what else to do. I will not miss the long hours spent away from my family.”
The law enforcement arena has been experiencing some challenges in recent years. What advice do you offer for those still in the profession or considering entering it?
“For those officers still in the profession, my advice is to continue to fulfill your duty to serve your community. I believe the vast majority of people want the police in their community, and enjoy a quality of life unmatched in the rest of the world because of our service. I also believe that now, more than ever, good police officers need to be in their communities reassuring those citizens that we are serving the whole community and that no one person has more or less rights under the law.”
Do you have any short-range professional plans?
“I have a couple of career options that I am exploring and I look forward to the opportunities that are available to me.”
So what is that hobby or pasttime that you are looking forward to devoting more time to now?
“I have been a licensed pilot for several years. I am looking forward to spending time flying and maybe even conducting some Angel Flights.”