They are both from the Lakelands. Both have significant experience in law enforcement. Both have the same passion: serving their community while keeping it safe. Say hello to Eighth Judicial Circuit investigators Windy Chappell and Courtney Smith.
Smith begins work at the Solicitor’s Office Monday after spending eight years in law enforcement, four of which were spent with the Greenwood County Drug Enforcement Unit. Chappell spent 10 years as a probation officer before moving to the Solicitor’s Office to start the drug court program in 2008. In January, Chappell moved to the investigator’s position when Brian Campbell was hired to run the drug court program.
“Investigators are a critical cog in what we do,” said Eighth Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo. “They are a point-person for everyone involved with a case. I expect my attorneys to each have three or four cases ready to go to trial every term of court and that would not be possible without great investigators.”
Investigators are responsible for all of the leg work not normally visible, such as serving subpoenas, making sure witnesses know when to be in court, making sure evidence is ready for trial and setting up interviews with witnesses and victims prior to a trial. The investigators can often be seen buzzing around the court speed at high speed making sure everything is in place during court proceedings.
Chappell’s focuses on cases throughout the circuit involving violence against women and sex crimes, which is comprised of Greenwood, Abbeville, Laurens and Newberry counties. According to Stumbo, Chappell brings a special set of skills to the job.
“(Chappell) does a great job working with witnesses and victims in sensitive cases involving sexual abuse and domestic violence,” Stumbo said. “It takes a special skill set to work with those cases and she definitely possesses those skills.”
Chappell, whose father is a former sheriff in Saluda County, said law enforcement has always been her passion.
“Law enforcement is in your blood,” Chappell said. “When it’s in your blood, you can’t just walk away. You either love it or you don’t and I love it.”
Smith was hired with the vision that he would fill the role of the Greenwood County investigator for which Stumbo has requested funding from Greenwood County Council. However, other vacancies in Stumbo’s office prompted the circuit’s top crime fighter to go ahead and bring Smith on board.
“I first took notice of Courtney (Smith) during a trial for a drug dealer,” Stumbo said. “I was impressed with the way he handled himself. He was very professional. I told myself then if I ever had an opening for an investigator I would give him a call.”
That opening came and Smith said he is excited to see the criminal justice system from a different perspective.
“When you’re on the law enforcement side of things you never get to see the background of what goes into a case,” Smith said. “Now I can see what it takes from this side. I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity.”
According to Stumbo, it takes more than good law enforcement officer to make a good investigator for a solicitor’s office.
“Both Windy (Chappell) and Courtney (Smith) have their priorities straight,” Stumbo said. “It’s obvious they both value their family and are committed to being good people, not just good law enforcement officers. That’s what it takes to be successful as an investigator.”