Push to consolidate CPD/RCSD withdrawn by Councilman Runyan - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Push to consolidate CPD/RCSD withdrawn by Councilman Runyan

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In a special meeting Wednesday, City of Columbia Councilman Cameron Runyan withdrew talks to revisit consolidating the Columbia Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Runyan and the rest of city council except Mayor Steve Benjamin who is out of the country, voted to adopt a resolution 6-0 to allow City Manager Teresa Wilson to continue the police chief search which has been narrowed down to two finalists.

Runyan also took responsibility for his role in the uncivil discourse concerning the city manager and the search for a new police chief.

"When I believe in something, I commit to it completely," said Runyan who reignited police and sheriff's department merger talks at a Monday press conference. "Whether it's my family, whether it is my Lord, whether it is some issue I am very passionate about. If I'm in, I'm in it all the way. Either that can be a great asset sometimes, but it also can lead me into the position where sometimes maybe my mouth gets ahead of my brain and a couple of days ago when I held this press conference trying to make a very prying distinction between an elected official and an appointed official, Teresa, I used a term ‘bureaucrat' that was probably hurtful to you and I take responsibility for that and I apologize."

In September 2010 the city council voted 6-1 to look at merging Columbia police and the sheriff's department but once a proposal was actually in writing, it failed to get out of the budget committee, so the proposal was tabled, Runyan said.

Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said the recent discourse could be seen as counterproductive at times between the city council, city staff and residents with opposing viewpoints.

"That has to stop for all of us," Devine said. "And I certainly will take responsibility… I will apologize to Mr. Runyan because I know he and I have shared words. And I certainly hope we all can find that genuine place of reconciliation and agree to move forward in a way that uplifts our city." 

Devine said the city council has to recognize that they are in a position where they have to speak collectively.

"Disagreement doesn't mean ‘Well I have to find an inroad around what the rest of my colleagues have said,'" Devine said. "And I say this and I understand that it sounds critical, but I'm not trying to be critical but I also want to elevate that because we can be here again on another issue."

Wilson said she is happy they are moving forward.

"It was my duty and my responsibility to continue with the process we had started," Wilson said. "You just have to weather storms sometimes, but it's ok. I think we've ended up where we need to be." 

Wilson said the final police chief candidates will be in Columbia Friday to take part in a law enforcement roundtable. 

A new chief of police will be announced sometime next week, Wilson said.

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