COLUMBIA , S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Public Safety recently held a ceremony to honor seven law enforcement officers for meritorious service.

One of those honored, and also inducted into the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame, was Ralph Porter, former Florence police chief and founder of Choices Charter School.

Representatives from law enforcement agencies and associations presented a narrative of the award winners at the ceremony.

Porter served as the Florence police chief for 17 years before retiring at 53. He then moved on to work with at-risk youngsters in an effort to keep them out of the prison system.

Choices was founded in 2002 by Porter, who had a vision to give students expelled from both traditional school and Florence 1 and Darlington’s alternative schools another chance to turn their lives around. The school ran for more than 10 years and closed in 2014.

Porter, who was a 2013 Marion Medallion recipient, was adamant during all of the speeches that he was not the one who deserved the attention. When he finally took the stage, he made sure that everyone knew that God was the one who had accomplished everything and that he simply was the vessel that was used.

Nominees for the hall must have had a proven record of excellence that is manifestly outstanding, especially to South Carolina law enforcement as a whole. They must have had 25 years’ minimum of law enforcement service. The nominees cannot currently be employed by a law enforcement agency or have been employed in the past five years.

“We are honored to again recognize this outstanding group of law enforcement professionals and ensure that their legacy of service is preserved in the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith, who also chairs the S.C. Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame Advisory Committee. “Their leadership and vision have contributed to safer communities and a stronger law enforcement community in South Carolina.”

Porter’s name will be permanently displayed in the Hall of Fame, and names will be added each year representing the best in leadership and service in South Carolina law enforcement.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame was created by an act of the S.C. General Assembly in 1974. That act established the Hall of Fame’s mission as both honoring South Carolina officers who have died in the line of duty and honoring officers in the day-to-day performance of their duties. The Hall of Fame-enabling legislation also established an advisory committee to determine who would be honored at the Hall of Fame and decreed that “any officer whose continued record of excellence over a period of years is manifestly outstanding may be elected to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame by the advisory committee.”

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