Gaston Police Department to hire new police chief after former chief resigns
Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Gaston Police Department is looking to hire a new chief of police after their former chief unexpectedly resigned. According to the department, Major Stephen Watkins is acting as the interim chief and has been since former Police Chief Shawn Mohundro resigned on September 18, 2020. A spokesman for the Gaston Police Department gave no explanation when he confirmed that Mohundro was no longer with the department. One area police chief said that Major Watkins had already attended one of the regional chief's meetings hosted by the sheriff's department where information and intelligence is shared.
Chief Mohundro has led the department for a number of years. He has been considered effective in establishing a law enforcement agency well-known for its battle on crimes that were often associated with the drugs and the drug epidemic that has swept the country. One long-time resident of the town who asked not to be identified said, “I know that me and my family felt safer when the chief was here working with the crew he's had. They don’t let much slip past them and whoever takes his place needs to keep on doing what they were doing. I think things have gotten a whole lot better since the chief’s been here.”
Gaston is a small town located on busy US Highway 321 south between Cayce and the Town of Swansea. Its location along that corridor made it a hot spot for drugs that were often being transported from either points south or very rural areas where they were grown, manufactured, or divided for distribution. Often, these illicit drugs were destined for more urban areas like Cayce, West Columbia, the City of Columbia, and metropolitan areas even further north.
Mohundro and his staff worked well with the chiefs and officers of other small-town departments in the region like Swansea, Pine Ridge, Pelion, and South Congaree. He had worked with the South Congaree Police Department for a time prior to going to Gaston. His department took a particularly aggressive stance on policing and along with the other small departments in the southern region of Lexington County, they were known to have impacted the rate of crimes that occurred in their jurisdictions.
During Mohundro’s tenure, police equipment was modernized, and techniques improved at the department. Some of the criminal element saw them as a jurisdiction that was to be avoided to prevent any interaction with law enforcement. Sadly, some took a more cavalier attitude and that often led to high-speed pursuits that more often than not ended with the criminal, many already wanted in other jurisdictions, in custody and the seizure of drugs, money, and firearms.