Wave of change at CPD intending to make community safer

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Columbia Police Department has some ambitious changes underway. Chief Randy Scott said he hopes they will lead to a drop in crime.

"We had instability obviously of the chief's position," said Chief Scott, "There was a disorganized command structure by the order charts. You'll see inconsistent accountability. There was confusion within the ranks of who was responsible for what."

Chief Scott said it was just the beginning of a long list of problems that needed to be fixed when he came on board last month. In an appearance before members of the city council's Public Safety Committee, Chief Scott broke out a Power Point presentation to show where CPD stood, where things are now, and his agenda for the department's future.

The broad goals include reducing violent and property crimes, reducing fear of crime, and increasing public confidence.

Chief Scott has already taken specific steps. He reorganized the command staff, adding diversity. CPD has hired 24 new officers for a department that had 56 vacancies. The department has established new teams to tackle warrant delivery and gangs, to start up crime watch groups, to work with the city's elderly, to provide support for police officers' spouses, and to launch an aggressive attack on street-level drug trafficking. "They've already made 116 charges," said Chief Scott, "90 of those charges have been strictly for drugs, and they have seized $6,000 just in those two months, just concentrating inside of our neighborhoods."

Chief Scott said Columbia is re-establishing cooperation with other police agencies. Richland County, Forest Acres and Fort Jackson are among them. The chief also hopes to add lab personnel, upgraded technology, and have new training and crime analysis capabilities, college classes for police officers, and a mountain bike patrol soon.

He said he wants more public involvement too, even volunteers who might answer phones at headquarters, freeing uniformed officers to hit the streets.

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