New chief in town

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

20-year veteran taking over leadership of Landrum PD

LANDRUM — A veteran in law enforcement will soon take over the reins at the Landrum Police Department.

Officials recently named Kristopher Ahler — a sergeant with the city of Greer Police Department with 20 years of experience in public safety — as the city’s new police chief. Ahler’s first day at the station will be next week, on Sept. 5, where he will step into the office left by Tim Edgens, who resigned as chief in June in order to take a position with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

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“Mayor [Robert] Briggs said the city council and city administrator were especially impressed with [Ahler’s] experience and commitment to reaching out and partnering with the community’s residents and businesses,” said Landrum City Administrator Rich Caplan in a release to the Bulletin. “I am confident that Kris will bring strong leadership to the outstanding men and women of the Landrum Police Department.”

Kristopher Ahler

Ahler was one of 17 candidates who applied for the position, Caplan said.

The police sergeant, who resides in Blue Ridge, South Carolina, said he and his family have visited Landrum since he moved to the area in 2005. Several months ago, when he saw that the city was looking for a new police chief, he eagerly put in his name into the hat for the job, he said.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity,” Ahler said. “[Landrum] is an amazing place to work. It’s an excellent community. I’m honored. … Landrum is a wonderful, small town community, yet very progressive. It’s a very beautiful and interesting place.”

A native of Bay City, Michigan, Ahler joined the U.S. Army shortly after graduating Lumen Christi Catholic School in Jackson, Michigan, in 1989. While in the service, he became a member of the 3rd Ranger Battalion.

At the end of his enlistment in 1993, Ahler moved to the Sarasota, Florida, area, where he worked in retail security while studying at a community college in the region. Through his job, he began to learn more about police work, and made the decision to go into the police academy to become a member of law enforcement.

Ahler joined the Palmetto, Florida, Police Department in 1998, where he worked as an officer for five years before he became a member of the Highlands County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office. In 2005, he and his family decided to relocate to South Carolina, where he became a member of the Greer Police Department, where he has worked ever since.

In his 13 years with the department, Ahler has served as a patrol officer, a detective, a narcotics and vice investigator, a trainer, and a K-9 officer, among other roles. He also served as commander of Greer’s emergency response team, the city’s SWAT unit that handles extremely dangerous situations.

In 2008, Ahler was named the department’s officer of the year after he helped bust a large, several million-dollar gambling ring.

As the new Landrum police chief, Ahler’s first priority will be to not only build upon the department’s strong relationship with not just the mayor, council and other city leaders, but also with local business owners and residents. He sees his role as a “servant leader,” making sure that his officers have the resources and training they need to best protect and serve the public.

“If your officers are doing well, and the work environment is a positive one, it will spread out into the community,” he said. “It worked in Greer, and has worked at other police departments. If you put your people first, they will put the public first.”

Though Landrum may be a small town, the community still expects — and deserves — a highly-trained and professional police force, something Ahler is committed to delivering, he said.

“Stagnancy is not OK — you are either moving backward or forward,” he said. “My goal is to always be moving forward. I will expect our officers to make us just a little bit better, every day.”