Charleston Police Chief announces retirement; James ‘Tyke’ Hunt sworn in as new chief

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

UPDATE: February 5, 2020 2:45 p.m.: Following Chief Opie Smith’s announcement this morning that he will be retiring, James Tyke Hunt has been named as the new chief of the Charleston Police Department.

Hunt was sworn in by Mayor Amy Goodwin at a joint press conference between the Charleston Police Department and Mayor Goodwin. Goodwin said choosing Hunt was an easy decision after consulting with other law enforcement officers in the Kanawha Valley.

“I reached out to former chiefs to get their advice and counsel and one name consistently came to the top,” Goodwin tells 13 News.

Choosing a new police chief was a decision Mayor Amy Goodwin says knew would come quickly after swearing-in Opie Smith in January of last year. Smith was not in attendance for the ceremony, but in a written statement this morning he said:

“Due to personal reasons, i am retiring from the charleston police department. While I am sad to leave, I do so knowing the future is bright for the department. “

Opie Smith, Former Charleston Police Chief

Hunt has been with CPD for 15-and-a-half years. He has served in the drug unit, detectives bureau and as a patrolman on the west side where he grew up, just to name a few.

“I want to use my connection with the West Side and just go from there and have everybody have a higher level of understanding and appreciation for each other. Us for the community and the community for us and just know we are going to work together to make a safe city,” Hunt says.

ChiefHunt says he is in this for the long run and his main focus right now is community relations.

“I want to take what we have and make it stronger I want to build those relationships, open the lines of communication to where they feel everyone on the police department, not just me is someone they can approach with problems and get resolution,” he adds.

After a Use of Force incident this past year and gun violence affecting the young people in the city we asked hunt if there are any worries stepping into this role. “I do have some concerns about issues anyone would going into this job but again I am excited about the future of the Charleston Police Department…I hands-down work with the finest men and women in law enforcement so I walk into a bunch of people, a bunch of officers with strengths that I’m going to draw upon I think we are in a good place and are going to get better” he says.

Hunt appointed Sgt. Scott Dempsey as Deputy Chief.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Charleston Police Department Chief Opie Smith has announced his retirement.

In a statement, Smith reflected on his time with the CPD, saying he is retiring for personal reasons and wishes a bright future for the department.

Serving as Chief for the Charleston Police Department (CPD) has been one of the greatest honors of my life. When I first started as a patrol officer, I never dreamed I would one day lead the Department I worked for. I am extremely proud of the work CPD has done and I am confident the future is bright for the men and women who serve the citizens of Charleston. I want to thank Mayor Amy Goodwin for providing me this once in a lifetime opportunity and entrusting me to lead this amazing group of officers. 

Due to personal reasons, I am retiring from the Charleston Police Department. While I am sad to leave, I do so knowing the future is bright for the Department. I sincerely thank all the men and women of the Charleston Police Department for the tremendous work they do every day to protect and serve our Capital City. I know in my heart the next Chief of Police will continue to build on the momentum that has been created.

Statement from CPD Chief Opie Smith

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