By ANNA BROWN
The Highway Patrol’s new Special Operations Major says his success would not have been possible were it not for the many positive lessons he learned while growing up in Union County.
Major Chris Madden is among four people who were named to fill critical positions in the Highway Patrol’s command staff on March 19.
A Jonesville native, Madden is the son of Patsy Lawson and the late Jack Madden, who was a sergeant with the Highway Patrol, and is the stepson of the Rev. Jerry Lawson.
Madden said after the sudden death of his father in 1983, he learned more about the job his father had been doing and he developed an interest in joining the patrol. He said every person who knew his father told him what a good man he was and spoke of Jack Madden’s integrity.
“Friends told me about his dedication to the Highway Patrol and his work as a sergeant on local roads,” he said. “He constantly worked to make our roads safer. The feedback spurred my interest in the profession.”
Law enforcement runs in other areas of Madden’s family. Both his uncle, Capt. Frank Baldwin, and his grandfather, the late David Baldwin, retired from the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
“My interest in law enforcement began when I was a little boy,” he said. “I have a strong commitment to helping make South Carolina a safer place to live and drive. I feel a sense of responsibility to my hometown and state to constantly improve our roadways.”
After graduating from Jonesville High School in 1988, Madden attended Spartanburg Methodist College where he earned a degree in 1990. He then transferred to USC-Spartanburg, all the time waiting for the day when he turned 21 and could join the patrol.
In the meantime, there were lessons to learn about life.
“I first learned about the value of hard work at the tender age of 14 when I took a job at Fowken Farm outside Jonesville,” he said. “The work was difficult but my former boss, Buddy Fowler, made it worthwhile. He was a wonderful mentor and a father figure when I needed someone to talk with. Tiring days passed quicker when Jason (Fowler) and I tackled work projects together.”
The Fowlers anchored a circle of friends who helped Madden through his developmental years, he said.
“The group includes Norris Fowler, Jason Fowler, Mark Smith and Jamie Gallman,” he said. “Each of them played a different but important role in my life.”
Madden said his success also would not have been possible if it hadn’t been for the loving support of his mother. He said she taught him and his sister that they could do anything they wanted to if they set their mind to it.
“After the passing of my dad, she encouraged my sister and me to strive and do the bet we could in all aspects of our lives. She also made many personal sacrifices to ensure we had everything we needed to be successful.”
Madden’s twin sister, Jackie Whitesides, is a registered nurse at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.
“I would also like to thank my loving wife, Jill, and our two children (Summer and Jackson) for their loving support over the years,” he said. “They keep me focused during difficult times.”
Madden joined the patrol in 1992. He has primarily served in various functions with the ACE Team, including most recently serving as the commander of the ACE Unit since 2007. The ACE Unit includes interdiction, K-9, Safety Improvement Team, motorcycle units and the Central Evidence Facility.
He is a graduate of the Administrative Officers’ Management Program at North Carolina State University, the U.S. Attorney’s LECC Narcotics Commander School and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Unit Commander’s Academy. He recently was accepted to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and will attend in September. He is a member of Second Baptist Church of Lancaster.
“I am fortunate to work in a career that I dreamed about as a child,” he said. “I learned many valuable lessons during my time as a road trooper in Lancaster County and as a member of the patrol’s Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team. I would like to thank Public Safety Director Mark Keel and Highway Patrol Col. Kenny Lancaster for their confidence in me. I believe our organization has a bright future.”
Lancaster said Madden is well-qualified.
“Major Madden is well-versed in all areas of the Patrol from enforcement and interdiction to administration,” Lancaster said. “He is a strong leader with a progressive vision and has a track record of making the areas he oversees more accountable and efficient. Those skills are vitally important in this difficult time of budget shortfalls.”