City manager forms committee in search for Columbia Police Chief - - Columbia, South Carolina

City manager forms committee in search for Columbia Police Chief

Teresa Wilson and Pamela Benjamin at news conference Wednesday Teresa Wilson and Pamela Benjamin at news conference Wednesday

Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson has formed a committee to help in the search for a new police chief.

Wilson made the announcement Wednesday morning. 

"I am pleased to announce that the process is well underway," she said.

Earlier this month, the city began a nationwide search to find a permanent replacement for Randy Scott, who resigned as police chief in April.  Ruben Santiago has been serving as interim chief until a permanent replacement is found.

Wilson said the members of the search committee are "highly respected and knowledgeable." Included on the committee are former Deputy South Carolina Attorney General and attorney Robert Bolchoz, former Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson, former SC Department of Corrections Director John Ozmint, retired Florence Police Chief Anson Shells and Retired FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Lamkin. Bolchoz will chair the committee.

"I'm looking for their candor and their professional body of experience," said Wilson.  "They bring a wealth of knowledge from across the spectrum.  I'm looking for candid input."

Wilson said she will also ask for suggestions from the community.

"It is very apparent to me from my communications with the public, the citizens, that they are very in tune to the fact that we need a wide array of insight in this process," said Wilson.

Columbia Human Resources Director Pamela Benjamin said the city has received 13 applications from candidates across the country.

"But it's not an indication of anything," she said.

"We will be looking at their progressive careers and leadership roles," said Benjamin. "We don't have a set profile of any candidate.  We want to look at all the attributes and experience that someone brings to us."

Wilson also addressed the requirement of 7-10 years of command experience for candidates.

"Criterion is based on current standards and best practices for the law enforcement industry," she said.

"It's a critical time in our city's history," said Wilson. "It's not a haphazard process. We all hope we end up with an individual that is committed to this city and is well received."

The committee includes two former police chiefs Patty Patterson from Sumter and Anson Shells, Florence.

Also former state corrections commissioner Jon Ozmint.

Former FBI agent in charge Brian Lamkin.

Chairing the group is Columbia attorney and former Low Country prosecutor Robert Bolchoz.

He says the ideal candidate should understand how to deal with political pressures.

"We talk about the fact that police chief should be able to operate sort of in a political vacuum," Bolchoz said. "That's not realistic; the fact of the matter is, in all jobs the police chief maybe even more than others in every city, the police chief has to be somebody experienced to deal with all the elements of the job."

So far no women have applied for the job. The city hopes to start the interview process by mid-December.

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