SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Police Capt. Joel Ewing-Chow was sworn into his new role as chief of police on Monday, after serving as the interim chief for the past five months.
Ewing-Chow, who began his career with the South Kingstown Police Department 25 years ago as a civilian safety public dispatcher, has risen through the ranks considerably during that time.
Four years after coming into the department as a civilian, Ewing-Chow was sworn in as a police officer, and in six years time, he received the first of many promotions.
Ewing-Chow raised from the rank of sergeant to detective commander in 2009, captain of operations in 2013, and most recently served as captain of administration beginning in 2017. In July, Ewing-Chow took up his interim position following the retirement of former Police Chief Joe Geaber Jr.
“My experience here has been wonderful,” Ewing-Chow said in a phone interview on Thursday morning. “I really enjoy working with the men and women of this department, civilian and sworn members. I love serving the public and I like being able to do positive things in our community.”
“My service here continues now that I’m the chief, and I hope to follow in the footsteps of my previous chiefs and do a great job,” he added. “I hope that we can get more involved with the public.”
Under his tenure as chief of police, Ewing-Chow hopes to better serve the public by taking a more proactive approach to police work. Rather than reacting to issues and simply responding to calls, he wants to see the department get more involved in community groups and social services.
The past several months serving as interim chief have come with a lot of work and responsibility, but Ewing-Chow has always considered his temporary appointment as a huge privilege. He was excited and honored to learn that he’d be taking on the full-time title and responsibility of police chief.
Ewing-Chow was chosen from a field of 15 other applicants and five finalists, according to Town Manager Robert Zarnetske.
“We conducted a broad search for the town’s next chief and Joel Ewing-Chow stood out as the best choice for this community,” Zarnetske said. “Chief Ewing-Chow has the institutional knowledge, the disposition and the skills necessary to move the SKPD forward as it buildings on its tradition of citizen-focused public service.”
In addition to his many years of experience on the force, Ewing-Chow also holds a Master’s Degree in Management from Salve Regina University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Roger Williams University.
As chief of police, he will be responsible for the overall management and operations of each of the town’s public safety divisions, including both sworn and civilian personnel. He’ll report directly to the town manager, and will be a member of the Town’s senior management team.
Chief Ewing-Chow’s duties will include managing the day-to-day operations of the department and establishing new programs to meet the community’s changing needs. He will also be responsible for the selection, training, assignment, and supervision of all sworn and civilian department personnel.
When the town shared the news of Ewing-Chow’s new appointment through social media last week, the Facebook post was met with widespread support and congratulations from community members.
More than 200 people “liked” or “loved” the posting, and more than 75 people wrote messages of congratulations to the new chief of police. The post was also shared more than a dozen times by community members, including Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (Dist. 33 — Narragansett South Kingstown) and current Town Council Vice President Bryant Da Cruz. Both elected officials extended words of encouragement and congratulations.
“We should all be proud to have Chief Joel Ewing-Chow as the leader of the South Kingstown Police Department,” Da Cruz wrote.
Having lived and worked in South Kingstown for more than 25 years, Ewing-Chow considers himself lucky to have built so many positive, personal relationships within the community. His news has been positively embraced by his neighbors and the rest of the department, according to Ewing-Chow.
“They’ve all been supportive,” he said. “The staff here has been fully supportive. They were very happy, from what I can tell, that I got the job.”
He’s a familiar face that brings over lots of institutional knowledge, as opposed to a complete stranger coming from another department. While his role is still challenging, nonetheless, it helps to have a great team behind you.
“I certainly don’t know the answers to every single question in the world — that’s why I surround myself with great employees and have a great support staff that I can tap into and get the answers that I need,” Ewing-Chow said, in order to make the best possible decisions.