One of the most important debates Americans are having these days is the need for criminal justice reform. Millions of Americans are unhappy with the way law enforcement agencies interact with the people, and are demanding changes.
One person intimately familiar with this issue is Charles Dowling, founder of Dowling Investigations. As a former law enforcement officer, he was so disgusted by what he saw that he has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to using his law enforcement skills to help defend people.
“I'm originally from Blackville, SC,” said Dowling. “I went to SC State in 1980 to play football. I transferred from SC State in 1982 after they made a commitment to me and didn't keep it. I moved to Atlanta and went to Massey Business College.”
Through a political contact, Dowling met Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King introduced him to her son, Dexter King. Dexter was working with the Atlanta Police Department during the missing children cases.
“He asked me if I was interested in working for the Atlanta PD,” Dowling recalled. “At that time, I was in college and looking for some work. So, I came in for the application and passed the test. Next thing I knew, I was working. I went to the Academy and everything. I took advantage of all the advanced courses the government had to offer.”
Dowling worked for the Atlanta Police Department throughout the 1980s. “I saw a lot of my race going to jail,” he recalled. “Some had committed a crime, some did not commit a crime.” The things Dowling observed while working in law enforcement disturbed him. It changed his life.
“One day I woke up and decided that I no longer wanted to put my own race in jail,” he recalled. “I observed police officers violating Black people’s constitutional rights, and by me being a witness they wanted me to write it up to make things run smoothly. I saw a lot of illegal things going on, so I decided that I no longer wanted to continue doing that. I wanted to help my own race out.”
Dowling decided to work for the people as a private eye. He moved back to South Carolina and opened a private investigation firm in Blackville in June 1990.
Dowling Investigations LLC works to uncover evidence that can be used in legal proceedings. The company also notifies people that they are being summoned in legal proceedings.
“We do criminal defense and process serving,” said Dowling. “With criminal practice, we can help put you in jail or we can defend you.”
One of the first big cases he worked on was a serial killer in Barnwell County. A popular radio DJ was suspected of killing several women. The family of one of the victims was not happy with the official investigation, so they hired Dowling to conduct an independent investigation. The suspect moved to Charlotte, where he was eventually arrested for killing more women.
Recently, Dowling worked for a man involved in a murder case. The police claimed that the man’s gun was used in a murder. Dowling was able to prove that the gun the man had was not the murder weapon.
“We knew what gun he had,” Dowling recalled. “And that the gun that the state claimed he had was not the gun he was carrying. Someone else had that gun. The case was dismissed.” Dowling also makes time to educate young people on how to deal with law enforcement officers.
“If a cop comes to you and you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, keep your mouth shut and ask to see a lawyer. If they ask to search your vehicle, don’t be rude to them. Just tell them that you would be glad to as soon as they go get a warrant. I tell them not to trust all police officers because you do have some crooked cops. I’m just going to leave it at that,” Dowling said.
This year, Dowling will celebrate 30 years of working as a private investigator. He says he has lasted this long because he is honest and provides good service.
“I’m honest, I provide good service and I am on time,” he said.
Dowling Investigation is based in Orangeburg, SC. Charles Dowling can be reached by calling (803) 662-2153.