City Manager: Police chief to be named by mid-March - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

City Manager: Police chief to be named by mid-March

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The City of Columbia is in the final stretch to name a new police chief, but there's still work to be done.

City Manager Teresa Wilson said during the next several weeks, she'll conduct more extensive background and reference checks on the remaining four candidates before making a decision. Wilson expects to name a new police chief by mid-March.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott resigned April 22, 2013, after saying he must deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. The City previously said it would have a police chief in place by March.

Meanwhile, Columbia residents heard from the four candidates for police chief at last week's public forum, and the biographies the city sent out on each of the finalists have been published.

WIS' investigative team filed Freedom of Information Act requests concerning the candidates, but also consulted with WIS' sister station NBC 12 in Richmond, Va., about candidate Bryan Norwood.

Norwood started as Richmond's police chief in 2009 with plans to make the city one of the "safest on the east coast." However, Norwood resigned in February 2013 among controversy with city officials.

"It's a mutually agreed upon change in leadership," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

Norwood's resignation came after an overtime lawsuit involving his department that cost the city millions. In 2012, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement that gave more than 600 officers $7 million in unpaid overtime.

There were also accusations by Los Angeles County prosecutors that singer Chris Brown did not serve all of his six-month community service sentence in 2009 for assaulting Rihanna. According to court documents, the prosecutors called Richmond Police Department's recording keeping at best "sloppy" and at worst "fraudulent reporting." Norwood was overseeing Brown's community service.

In a letter to a judge in Los Angeles, Norwood claimed Brown completed his 202 days of supervised manual community labor in August 2012. There was speculation that Norwood was leaving his position as police chief during his tenure in Richmond.

Right before Norwood left his job in 2013, he was named a finalist for a police chief job in Raleigh. He did not get the job.

"It's public knowledge that Chief Norwood has been looking at other opportunities, and he has been doing that for some time," Jones said. "And quite frankly, we've been looking at other opportunities as well."

Leaders and members of the faith community fought to try to keep Norwood as chief, citing his job performance and a reduction in violent crime as reasons to keep him on the job.

"The faith community is united in our respect for this chief and for our desire that he remain as chief of police here in the City of Richmond," said Butch Johnson, director at Northside Outreach Center. "I look at his genuine care and concern for the citizens. I've seen that in action myself."

WIS is working to get a response from Norwood on his experience as chief in Richmond.

Based on the City of Columbia's job post for the police chief job, the salary ranges from just over $89,000 to more than $115,000. Based on the salary information for the four candidates that WIS obtained, only one currently exceeds the salary limit for the police chief job.

Col. Gregory Reese's salary is $118,530, plus living expenses in Colorado Springs. Reese has nearly 24 years of active duty service in the U.S. Air Force and is currently serving as security forces chief for Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Candidate William Holbrook has been the police chief at Huntington Police Department in West Virginia for seven years. His current salary is a little more than $70,600. He spent 11 years at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation before he resigned to become self-employed. It was after being self-employed that he later took the police chief job in West Virginia.

Tony Fisher is currently the only candidate residing in South Carolina. He retired as public safety director after 18 years with the City of Spartanburg. At the time of his retirement in August 2013, his salary was more than $104,850. Fisher also worked as police chief for 10 years in Takoma Park, Md., where he was the first black police chief for that department.

When Norwood resigned, he was given just under $50,000 for severance and compensation for vacation and sick time he accrued.

Not one candidate has agreed to a phone interview with WIS.

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