McCOLL — The new police chief in McColl is a very familiar face.
Terry Freeman was named the new chief on Aug. 11. He had served as acting chief since Billy Stubbs left.
A native of Marlboro County, he grew up in Bennettsville but now lives in McColl.
Freeman has been in law enforcement for almost 16 years and has only worked for two departments during his career- Bennettsville Police Department and the McColl Police Department.
Being in law enforcement was something he always thought of doing. Initially, he put in an application to the BPD when he was 21 but never got a callback. He went to work at the Delta Mills in Wallace.
Later with some encouragement from a friend in law enforcement, he applied again to the city of Bennettsville and was hired. He worked there for 10 years.
He applied to MPD and has been here for six years. He started as a patrol officer and moved up to the rank of sergeant and then lieutenant.
And now he is the chief of police.
“I think everybody who gets in law enforcement has aspirations of it one day. Did I ever think it would be a reality? I would be lying if I said yeah,” Freeman said.”
Since taking the position, he has pulled double duty as chief and school resource officer while the students are at the school.
When up to capacity, the department has six full-time officers and three reserves.
He was the SRO at McColl Elementary Middle School previously and enjoyed it. He added he would miss being in MEMS.
It is a chance to allow young kids to see the human side of law enforcement.
He noted the impression made on those kids when they are 12 or 13 years old will make a difference when they are 17 or 18 driving and get pulled over or a victim of a crime.
“I think the relationships we can build with these kids as a police department when they are preteens or teens will be vital 10 years down the road,” he said.
Freeman has two main goals as chief. One of the first things he did before he was named chief was reach out to several young African American males in the community.
He hopes to sit down and talk with them about everything that is going on today.
“One of my biggest fears is everything that is going on today happens here,” he said.
His personal belief is that nothing can change if people are not willing to sit down and have a conversation about what needs to be changed.
The ultimate goal of the meeting is to have a setting where young men can speak honestly and candidly.
“One thing I will never understand or never know is what it feels like to be a young black man behind the wheel of a car and get pulled over by a police officer,” Freeman said.
He wants them to give him their personal experiences good and bad. And let them know they may not agree on every topic or every issue but at least the conversation is getting started.
He added he feels like a conversation needs to have happened between the police and community.
He has also asked each young man to bring someone with him.
Another priority is to meet with all business owners and church leaders in McColl to get their input as to how they can better serve the community from the law enforcement standpoint.
He said his time as chief has been fine and is a transitional process. He was in the process of hiring an officer.
This will help trim down his duties some so he can dedicate more time to being chief.
Freeman wanted to thank the many in law enforcement who have helped him in his career.
“There are too many people for me to name,” he said. “I am scared I would leave somebody out.”
He thanked his family which included, his father, Terry Freeman Sr., his mother Mary Erwin-Norris, and his wife Amy. They have two children son, Peyton, and daughter Aubree.
He also thanked former chiefs that he has worked for. They included former Bennettsville Police Chief Larry McNeil, the late McColl Chief Tommy Langley, and the former McColl Chief Billy Stubbs.