Charleston, SC – Charleston Police Department (CPD) Chief Luther Reynolds died on May 22 after a courageous battle against cancer.
Chief Reynolds, 56, was diagnosed in November of 2021 with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops within the body’s connective tissue, The Post and Courier reported.
He underwent a rigorous treatment plan that included chemotherapy and surgery, and ultimately lost a leg to cancer prior to returning to work in February of 2022, according to WCSC.
Chief Reynolds issued an open letter to his fellow Charlestonians on May 17 regarding his heartbreaking prognosis.
“After speaking with my doctors and praying for God’s guidance and grace, [my wife] Caroline and I have decided that the time has come for me to end my cancer treatments and enter hospice care,” the police chief wrote. “Such decisions are never easy, of course…”
“I’d like to thank you, our citizens, for giving me the opportunity to serve as your police chief,” he continued. “Five years ago, you welcomed me and my family into this remarkable city, and with your support, we have built an even better, even stronger police department. I cannot tell you how proud I am of the men and women of CPD, and how honored I am to have led them.”
Chief Reynolds passed away peacefully five days later with his family by his side, according to his obituary.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg released a statement later that night.
“Tonight, Charleston has lost not just a great police chief, but one of the finest human beings that many of us will ever know,” Tecklenburg said. “Luther Reynolds was a modern man of ancient virtues: faith, honor, courage, duty. But most of all, and at his very core, Luther was a man of love. He loved his family, his friends, his life. He loved this city and the brave men and women who keep it safe. He loved God, and in faithful service, he loved his neighbor.”
The mayor said the city is in mourning because “we loved him as much as he loved us.”
“But even today, as our hearts are breaking, we can take solace in knowing that with Luther’s final journey now complete, his weary days of pain have passed, and his timeless days of peace have just begun,” Tecklenburg concluded.
Chief Reynolds served the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland for more than 30 years, rising to the rank of assistant chief prior to taking over at the helm of the Charleston police in 2018, according to his obituary.
He also held a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University, as well as a master of science degree in business from Johns Hopkins University.
“Chief Reynolds embraced the principles of compassion and love in his approach to policing,” his obituary read. “He recognized that true justice required not only the enforcement of laws, but also understanding, empathy, and healing.”
He aimed to “build bridges of trust and understanding” in the community, and fostered “an environment of respect and collaboration between law enforcement and the citizens they served,” his family said.
“Under his benevolent leadership, the Charleston Police Department flourished, gaining the admiration and trust of the community,” they noted.
Chief Reynolds leaves behind his wife, Caroline, and his children, Luke and Grace, according to his obituary.
He was laid to rest on May 30.
More than 700 people attended his memorial service, including law enforcement officers from across the nation, The Post and Courier reported.
“Rest in peace, Chief,” his obituary read. “Your character will forever be remembered as an enduring testament to the power of a life well-lived and to the incredible person you were. Though you may be gone from our sight, your spirit lives on in the hearts of all whose lives you touched.”
One of Chief Reynolds’ most admiring attributes was the way he could connect with others in his community. His heart, integrity, and his genuine concern and care for others was unmatched. pic.twitter.com/2Imqujj2jf
— Charleston P.D. (@CharlestonPD) May 25, 2023
What a fantastic tribute by Charleston County Aviation Authority Police Department !
This is the newest edition to the K-9 Unit. He has been named after Chief Reynolds, from the City of Charleston Police Department. He will be called “Luther”. He reports for duty this morning ! pic.twitter.com/Lv8NYbjdc0
— Rob Fowler (@RobStormTeam2) May 25, 2023
— Anna Harris | Live 5 News (@annajamesharris) May 30, 2023
One of the finest men I’ve ever known. His belief in God was intentionally made to overshadow his status or position. Chief Luther Reynolds’s impact on our lives and community is measurable. His goal was to simply leave us better than he found us, and he significantly surpassed… pic.twitter.com/eOEnKkAVsH
— Tian A. Griffieth (@TianGriffieth) May 31, 2023
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Charleston Police Department Chief Luther Reynolds, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.