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GSP hires Welborn as police chief

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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Bobby Welborn’s law enforcement career has been in the public and private sector in the upstate.

Bobby Welborn’s law enforcement career has been in the public and private sector in the upstate.

Bobby Welborn, a veteran law enforcement officer in the upstate, has been named the new police chief at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport at Greer.

Welborn’s career has come through the ranks of public safety at the Spartanburg Police Department, security chief at University of South Carolina Upstate and at the campus of Greenville Technical College. He created the first police division at Greenville Tech.

“We are public service, we don’t have to make an arrest,” Welborn said. “We’re here to protect the property.”

That is what helped Welborn get the job, according to David Edwards, GSP Executive Director. “Working at two colleges gives (Bobby) portability with skill his skill sets. We need our police to calm people and be an ambassador for the airport. The police are one of the first and last people our customers see.”

Welborn, who was a member of Spartanburg’s first tactical squad, said his officers will be asked to assist people using the airport. “Police work is police work,” Welborn said. “It’s as much as helping people jump cars off, opening locked cars to save the expense of calling a locksmith, and reminding people to keep the front of the terminal clear for passengers arriving and leaving.”

Part of protecting GSP is securing weapons before they come into the terminal. “People will forget to leave their weapons at home or they may forget they’ve been traveling with one and forget to get it checked,” Welborn said.

Airport security is also working with Homeland Security and TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Welborn had extensive meetings his first weeks on the job.

Edwards said there were 200 applications for police chief. “We looked at them and found Bobby with the experience we were looking for,” Edwards said.

Welborn’s career has crossed paths with other state and federal law enforcement agencies and personnel. “I have relationships with the Secret Service, FBI, ATF, SLED and TSA. Through the years we’ve trained or worked together,” Welborn said. “Now I can pick up the phone with these same people who have worked their way to the top of their agencies.”

There will be no changes at the moment for his 16-person staff, Welborn said. “I want to look at how we do things and get input one-on-one. I want the officers to tell me the positive and the negative. We’ll slowly change ways to make it a more positive environment. We’ll also build a relationship with (law enforcement) departments of both counties.

“I want to get to know my officers and help them,” Welborn said. “What interests them? Do they want self-defense training? Are there other training officers wanting to move their career forward? I want to watch our officers grow.”

“I want to be approachable,” Welborn said. “We’re about customer service. There are 1.5 million passengers moving through here a year. People are friendly and want a good experience. I want to find any way we can to help citizens. We want them to enjoy their visit here so they come back to GSP.”

Businesses mentioned in this article.

GSP Airport

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