CHARLESTON -- A Charleston native will fill the role of Charleston's new director of public safety/chief of police officially beginning April 10.
Robert E. Hearnes Jr., 40, who is currently serving as the acting director of public safety/chief of police, was named as the new position holder by City Manager Dan Gruen after the city council unanimously supported Gruen's recommendation on March 13.
Hearnes has been employed with the Charleston Police Department for 17 years. He began his career in law enforcement as a deputy for the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department. In 1990, he joined the Charleston Police Department as a police officer. By 1993, he was promoted sergeant; he was promoted to lieutenant in 1995 and to captain in 2002. Last August Hearnes became acting chief of police after the city council didn't renew the contract of former Chief of Police Paul Johnson.
"Mr. Hearnes' role of acting director of public safety since last August and his years of service in a supervisory level within the police department more than adequately qualify him for the position," Gruen said.
Hearnes' duties will be to direct police and fire personnel, programs and activities; develop effective interdepartmental procedures; develop and evidence control procedure; and supervise emergency management. Hearnes will also be directed to build positive working relationships with Mississippi County, state and federal law enforcement agencies. He will also work to promote and maintain responsive community relations and work to establish favorable public relations within the community.
A 1984 graduate of Charleston High School, Hearnes received a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with an emphasis in law enforcement in 1989 from Southeast Missouri State University. He has lived in Charleston his entire life and is married to Becky Williams who have two children, Rachel and Robert.