Columbia Chief of Police building honorable police force - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Columbia Chief of Police building honorable police force

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Crime across the City of Columbia has declined overall in the last year.

New numbers provided by the police department show overall crime is down by about 14 percent.

Chief Skip Holbrook said this is good news but there is still a lot of work to be done and he needs more officers to do it.

Two months on the job and Holbrook is adjusting.

"It's been great, very fast paced but a great experience," Holbrook said.

In that time frame he says 6 people have quit leaving more than two dozen open positions.

"Some of the issues of the past with uncertainty at the top and I hope that I bring a sense of stability and integrity and honor," Holbrook said.

While Holbrook hopes his new command will refresh the department, he is concerned with filling those vacancies.

"That's our number one priority is: recruiting, hiring, training and retaining our officers," Holbrook said. "But we also have to pay our officers a competitive wage and allow officers to professionally develop while they're with the police department and pay them for that."

The City of Columbia is conducting a compensation study that affects all city employees.

The study will look at comparable cities and see if salary adjustments need to be made.

Holbrook said he's confident he will be able to get the officers he needs.

There are already new applicants.

About a dozen took a physical fitness test this week including 21-year-old Nicholas Smalls.

"I just want to help people, fight crime and make life better for others," Smalls said.

Smalls said he's always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.

And despite the past drama of the department, he wants to work in Columbia.

"I was born and raised here," Smalls said. "It's a lot of crime and I believe it needs me so I'm here to do my part."

Holbrook said exchanges with the officers have been positive.

"They want the same thing that I want," Holbrook said. "They want a police department that is recognized as one of the best around. And a police department that is considered honorable, professional, well-trained, we all want the same thing."

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