Lott: I'd take over CPD, but only with total control - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Lott: I'd take over CPD, but only with total control


Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he'd take over the Columbia Police Department as long as he would be in "total control."

In the 18 years Lott has been sheriff, he has been asked numerous times if he would be willing to run the Richland County Sheriff's Department and the Columbia Police Department at the same time. Each time he said yes, and each time the proposal has not made it past initial discussion.

Councilman Cameron Runyan proposed the idea for the fifth time Monday morning, just days before City Manager Teresa Wilson is supposed to name the city's new police chief. Runyan hopes this time, the idea becomes a reality.

"My answer has always been the same every time ... If they need me, I'm here," said Lott Monday afternoon. "Yes, I would take it over, I would lead it. I'd have to be in total control."

Should both departments merge, the agency would be the largest in the state with over 1000 officers.

"The residents of the City of Columbia are still the residents of Richland County," said Lott. "I'm their sheriff."

Lott did not go into detail about exactly how he would structure the command staff of the massive agency, but did say he'd lead just as he does now. "I would manage it and I would lead it like I do the sheriff's department," said Lott. "I am an elected official and I work for the people."

When asked how much he'd be paid to handle the city's operations, he said his conversations have never included compensation. "That's never been brought up," said Lott. "The next step has never been made by the City of Columbia."

While maintaining he'd have control over all decisions affecting the department, Lott did say he does consult with the county manager and county council. He said he would do the same with Columbia's city manager. "We work together," said Lott.

Lott's term as sheriff ends in three than three years. He plans to run again. "I have 10-year-old daughter at home," said Lott. "I need a job."

City council voted 4-3 in 2010 to stop discussion about consolidation.

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