CPD launches drive to recruit new talent to department - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

CPD launches drive to recruit new talent to department

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The Columbia Police Department has been through some trying times over the past few years.

Now, as things begin to settle under new Chief Skip Holbrook, the department's administration is hoping to get back to important but less controversial matters including hiring.

The Columbia Police Department is on the hunt for new officers and others who help the department keep the city safe.

The department currently has 31 positions open on a force authorized for 406.

Fifteen of the 31 open positions are sworn officers.

"You know a lot of my friends went off to Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth and I want to make sure we are able to retain the professionals that are home grown as well as attract those that are from out of state," said CPD Major Melron Kelly. "Columbia is a great place to live, you think about the weather, you think about how close we are to other cities."

Overseeing the campaign is Holbrook who said his department can't get by forever using overtime to make up for staff shortages.

"We have to address it and I think how we address it is having a solid recruiting plan, hiring plan… We have to make this place a desirable place to work and want to have a career," Holbrook said.

Holbrook said the city needs more police because Columbia is getting bigger.

The Columbia force has often lost personnel to other law enforcement agencies due to pay issues.

But the department said pay is now competitive with even the most inexperienced and least educated recruits starting out at more than $30,000 a year, a figure that increases to the mid-30's with college degrees, certification and experience.

"If you want to get great experience, come to a city that is continually growing," Kelly said. "I think that's a great draw. Officers deal with everything from assisting motorists to helping with homicides."

It can be expensive to add officers because they require new equipment and sometimes more cars.

Right now the department is within budget because of the vacancies.

As the force expands especially in the major entertainment districts, the city might have to come up with another $1 million and maybe more.

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