Cheryl Clack

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University officially ended its search for a new chief of police by promoting Charles Yearta from interim chief to the role full-time on Sept. 12.

Yearta said he was excited, but also both honored and intimidated by the responsibilities that come along with being the chief of police at Winthrop.

“Well, obviously it’s a joyous occasion for me, being that I started my whole career at Winthrop University,” Yearta said. “Another part of it would be sort of a heavy burden when you realize the buck stops with me at our police department.”

Yearta, who is also a Winthrop graduate, appeared on the Palmetto Report vodcast to discuss his new role and campus safety.

He said he plans on building a better connection with the campus community.

“Over the years, there seems to be an increase in what amounts to apathy in individuals, to where it’s no longer a neighbor looking out for a neighbor. It’s the individual looking out for the individual and not anybody else,” he said.

Yearta said community buy-in is the key to reducing problems on campus.

For example, the LiveSafe app, which Yearta helped introduce in 2014, allows users to anonymously report crimes or submit tips directly to the Winthrop Police Department.

According to Yearta, the number of downloads and the number of people using the app has increased during this year, which he attributed to the fact the app allows users to send anonymous texts to maintain a comfortable line of communication with police.

“So, by having that safety app downloadable and by those individuals using it, whether they use text or not, it increases our chances of just having that information coming in, so we can do our job,” Yearta said.

Yearta also said it’s important for campus safety that Winthrop hired its first Title IX coordinator in 2021 to help combat sexual misconduct on campus.

The move came after a number students rallied during the spring 2021 semester to voice their concerns about how sexual assault cases were handled on campus.