City Manager announces formation of police chief search committee

nophillips@thestate.comNovember 27, 2013 

— City Manager Teresa Wilson announced the formation of a police chief search committee to help choose the city's next top law enforcement officer.

The chairman of the search committee is Robert Bolchoz, a Columbia attorney who ran for attorney general in 2010 and for city council in 2012.

The other members are:

* Patty Patterson, former Sumter Police Department chief who now serves as Sumter's public safety and welfare office director;

* Brian Lamkin, a retired FBI agent who now works as an investigator for the S.C. Inspector General;

* Jon Ozmint, a former director of the S.C. Department of Corrections who has a private law practice in Columbia

* Anson Shells, a retired Florence Police Department chief who works as that city's community relations commander.

The search committee will help Wilson narrow the pool of applicants and decide who will be invited for interviews. The committee also will interview the candidates, she said.

Conducting a thorough, equitable search is immensely important, Wilson said during a news conference to announce the search committee members.

The city opened its search for a new chief on Nov. 12, and the application deadline is Dec. 11. So far, the city has received 13 applications from across the country, including as far away as Washington, Texas and New Jersey, said Pamela Benjamin, the city's human resources director. The job will pay $89,246 to $115,869 annually.

The Columbia Police Department has been running without a full-time chief since April when Randy Scott resigned. Since then, Interim Chief Ruben Santiago has been running the department, which has 460 employees including 385 officers.

Santiago has been under investigation since July when a former captain accused him of corruption.

During the summer, Wilson said she wanted to hold off the police chief search until the investigation was completed. She said City Council shared that position.

But she opened the search earlier this month saying there was no end in sight to the investigation and she needed to move forward.

Santiago has said he will apply for the job, but there have been questions over whether he meets the qualifications listed in the city's job posting. The job description says qualified candidates must have 8 years of experience in a command position of captain or higher.

Santiago has six years experience in the upper ranks of law enforcement.

On Wednesday, Benjamin, who is not related to the mayor, said candidates will be qualified based on the totality of their experience in law enforcement.

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