By Brian Cleary, Special to the Island Eye News
On Friday, June 14, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the new Chief of Police on the Isle of Palms, and thought I would share some of our time together with the readers of The Island Eye. His background is outstanding. I came away from our brief time together in the studio with a great admiration for his keen wit, cool demeanor and professional approach.
Brian Cleary, Y102.5: Welcome to the Lowcountry. Welcome to East of the Cooper, and … You’re the new Chief of Police on the Isle of Palms. So, Kevin Cornett, that’s gotta have a nice ring to it.
Chief Cornett: It does, it feels nice.
Y102.5: You’ve been on the job now for all of – a week and a half? Are you starting to get the lay of the land, or the island, I should say?
Chief: Oh, I’m learning. This morning I got to jump out on a few calls with some of the officers, we had a, “There’s a copperhead in my yard.” And the next call was a, “There’s a Man of War on the beach.”
Y102.5: Certainly not the kind of calls your department got on your last job when you were the Chief up in Springdale, just outside of Columbia, South Carolina.
Chief: Right. Yes, that was a little town surrounded by big cities. There was nobody calling about us dealing with a Man of War, that’s for sure. However, snakes – those we got.
Y102.5: Your family, they are getting acclimated?
Chief: Yes. We have four boys. The oldest is 10, and then the youngsters go right on down to age 2. My wife, she’s pretty awesome, she is a beach person who grew up in the Beaufort area. I tell people that I kidnapped her to the midlands for about 12 years, but am proud to have kept my promise to get her back by the ocean.
Y102.5: Couple of quick questions. Gamecocks or Tigers?
Chief: I admit to being a Gamecock fan, but I’m also a West Point fan. I have to root for the Cadets.
Y102.5: And you were in the military?
Chief: Went thru the ROTC programs in high school and college, then did 6 years active duty and 2 years in the Inactive Ready Reserve.
Y102.5: Thank you for your service, sir. Favorite music?
Chief: I listen to everything, but my favorite is the Blues.
Y102.5: First concert?
Chief: Def Leppard. I still love Def Leppard.
Y102.5: Most memorable concert or event that you got to work when you were just an officer?
Chief: I have to say Aretha Franklin. I was quite new on the force when she came to Columbia, got to work that one, that was quite a show. And of course, being on hand to provide security at the many different sporting events for USC teams, it is always a great environment at Williams-Brice.
Y102.5: Do you play an instrument?
Chief: I have a guitar. Two, actually; one at home, and I keep one in my office to play around with. I do know two chords, and am working on getting that third one down. When you get in those stressful times, it’s nice to just pick it up, play the two chords that I know, make some random noise.
Y102.5: So, you are not yet taking requests?
Chief: When I ever do start to strum a bit, I hear everyone shut their doors – all the way down the hall.
Y102.5: Now at one point, I understand you were one of the “40 under 40”? Named one of the top 40 Police Chiefs under 40 years of age in the entire U.S.?
Chief: That was pretty cool. It was an international award through the International Association of Chiefs of Police. There were forty people from all different countries getting that same award. It was a huge honor.
Y102.5: That looks pretty good on the resume.
Chief: Well, it felt really good. And, I got a trip to San Diego! That’s where the ceremony was held.
Y102.5: So, you are literally the “New Sheriff In Town.” First impressions?
Chief: I have inherited a terrific department, great support staff. We have an impressive mix of diverse, talented, very capable, dedicated officers. A solid blend of experienced individuals, and we will soon have a few new members coming fresh out of the police academy to round out our numbers. The Isle of Palms has always been, and is a safe place to live. It is a wonderful place to visit. People come from around the world to stay with us here, and I am bringing the message to the community that it takes everyone working together to provide the environment we want – for safety and for everyone to benefit by the many opportunities we have on our small island. Our businesses, our other municipal departments, the wonderful firefighters, the resort, and all of our citizens will be contributing to the well-being and the overall health of our City.
Y102.5: Biggest challenges?
Chief: Summer is upon us, thousands upon thousands of folks are coming across the bridges every day. Parking is going to be a concern. If you have questions, call the Police Department. Or when you arrive – look for our Beach Services Officers, they are in yellow polo shirts, and very visible. They are a fine group and will gladly help all visitors and our citizens alike with any number of issues: where to park, where to find amenities, etcetera. We do ask when you vacation here, or if you are just out for a day at the beach, please check for our rules and regulations about parking and what your responsibilities are when you, your family and friends are on our seashore by going to IOP.net. And please – everyone – slow down. Look out for our children, our elderly citizens especially. Just plan to enjoy a slower pace. All of us on the Isle of Palms are glad you are here. We need you to remember that a lot of people live here, and of course, we want to keep it a beautiful, safe place for them, and for all of you to come back to.
Y102.5: Chief Kevin Cornett. Best wishes, sir.
Chief: Brian, I am sure we will talk again soon. Please come to the beach, stop by the Public Safety Building at 30 J.C. Long Blvd. and say hello.
Y102.5: Maybe you will have that third chord down by then, and you can play me a tune.
Chief: Let’s not count on that.
Brian Cleary is the radio host of the iHeart Radio’s Y Morning Wakeup show on Y102.5.