City leaders welcome new police chief to the capital city - - Columbia, South Carolina

City leaders welcome new police chief to the capital city


The City of Columbia is getting to know the man who will take control of the city's police department.

William "Skip" Holbrook was the guest of honor at a reception Thursday held on Coble Plaza next to the EdVenture Children's Museum.

Holbrook is coming from most recently Huntington, West Virginia and has spent much of his career in North Carolina.

The city's newest police chief is taking on the challenge of running a department ripped by controversy and scandal for the past year.

"We've got a 90 day plan that's basically in three phases," Holbrook said. "Essentially it's an assessment plan that's really taking inventory, internal inventory and some external inventory. Kind of get the lay of the land with the officers and the personnel, get to know them."

Holbrook emerged as Columbia's top cop after a search that pitted him against roughly 50 other applicants.

"One thing that's a pretty significant distinction between me and the other candidates, if you think back, is I was the only one that wasn't retired, and that means I have a whole lot to lose if I'm not successful, and it makes me hungry to be successful," Holbrook said.

The incoming chief said the repair work ahead of him isn't overwhelming and despite the recent scandals, crime-fighting hasn't stopped.

"I think you have to be transparent and accountable," Holbrook said. "When you make a mistake, you acknowledge that, and you make that course correction."

When Holbrook is sworn in, he tells WIS he'll make subtle changes.

He said he needs more time to study if larger changes are needed.

Recent turnover will also be a target.

"We'll correct the turnover," Holbrook said. "You've got to want your organization to be the best, and I think we certainly have officers that want that."

Holbrook is ready to tackle gangs here too.

"You've got to educate and prevent youth from becoming involved in criminal activity and gang activity, and then, we've also got to address people that are returning to society that have been incarcerated," Holbrook said.

Residents like Bruce Brutschy are already supporting their new chief.

"This was the missing link with the instability," Brutschy said. "This is the final link to making this a really strong force."

As he settles into office there is talk about whether Holbrook will be spared what many have said over the last decade has been interference in police affairs by city leaders including council members.

Councilwoman Tameika Devine is one of those who say the city has hired a lawman with a solid background who doesn't need advice from outsiders right now.

"We always have issues of morale and recruitment and he's always identified those as priorities," Devine said. "But everything else I think we need to take his lead and we just put in place what he needs to get done."

Lower Waverly community leader Durham Carter said he was impressed with Holbrook saying that he had done his homework.

"He should be able to do an evaluation of the situation in the various communities and come up with his own agenda talking with the people in the community," Carter said. "And in talking with the community he'll get an understanding of the problems that they are faced with."

The Official Swearing In Ceremony for the City of Columbia's Chief of Police will be at 11 a.m. Friday in council chambers at city hall.  

Shuttle service for the ceremony will be provided from the Cannon Parking garage to City Hall starting at 9:30 a.m.

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