Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott
The Columbia crime scene is soon to worsen, not because of an actual expansion in criminality but because of real gains in street– level police work. When the city police pick up the pace and pick up more criminals, the statistical profile of the city looks threatening. Too many arrests on the street result in too many arrests in the FBI’s annual statistical compilation, leaving Columbia looking like a hotbed for crime. In fact, the statistics are misleading.
The cities with the fewest arrests in the annual survey of crime statistics appear safer than the cities with the most arrests. The opposite is true. More arrests take more criminals off the streets, and that makes for a safer city. It’s just too bad the statistics don’t say that.
Starting about now, which is about when Columbia’s new police chief has had enough time to get his feet on the ground, the citizens of Columbia have to learn the reality of aggressive policing and effective prosecuting. Next year’s crime statistics are going to reflect the new reality that comes with a high crime count, a tough lesson in statistics, but that’s because the city police are doing their jobs.
Leading the statistical shift is Randy Scott, Columbia’s police chief and Columbia’s very own.
Scott was born at Providence Hospital. He grew up in the College Place neighborhood in North Columbia. He attended elementary school at John P. Thomas, middle school at W. A. Perry, and he spent three years in high school at C. A. Johnson, but he graduated at Keenan where he spent his senior year.
With a heavy work schedule interfering with afternoon practices, Scott was impressed with himself when he tried out and made the B team in football as a tailback. Work got to be too much, so Scott dropped football, but he still managed to march with the school band as one of its drummers.
Scott started working at age 13 when he delivered newspapers in the afternoon for the Columbia Record. After two years with the Record, Scott got a new alarm clock and delivered in the early mornings for The State. About the same time, Scott entered the grocery business as a bagger at a major grocery store. By the time he finished high school, Scott was the night manager.
His father was a U. S. Postman, a letter carrier walking the Edgewood neighborhood. Scott’s mother worked in the S.C. Department of Mental Health at Crafts Farrow on Farrow Road. Both parents retired after about 30 years on the job. An elementary school crossing guard, Scott’s father today helps the kids at John P. Thomas School.
Scott’s older sister, Monica, was in the U. S. Army six years, gaining enough training and experience to take a position in Dallas, Texas, with the Environmental Protection Agency.
With his high school diploma, Scott took a job at Allied Chemical off St. Andrews Road. After two months in the Allied plant, Scott didn’t like the future he saw, so he drove down to Assembly Street and volunteered for the U. S. Marines. His father, a former Army man, didn’t know about Scott and the Marines until the evening after he signed up for a four–year stint.
Scott went to Parris Island for Marine boot camp, and from there he was shipped to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland to learn welding. By the time he was finished with his military experience, Scott had six years in the U.S. Marines. He also had bad knees.
Scott took his bad knees and the GI bill for more education and vocational rehabilitation. While he was still on active duty, Scott took the time for an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s, and a master’s.
Married once before, Scott remarried in 2001, this time to a women with children of her own, and together they have had one child and adopted another. The younger is seven years old and in the first grade at Pontiac Elementary. The older is nine and also at Pontiac. Scott’s stepdaughter is entering West Point this summer. The whole family plays soccer, and when he gets out on his own, Scott gets out on a bicycle.
The Scotts keep a large pontoon boat under a shed at the house in the cold months, and in the warm months they keep the pontoon at Lake Murray.
Scott’s first job in law enforcement was with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. He covered the whole county, but he spent most of his time in North Columbia and a little less in Lower Richland.
After about three years as a deputy sheriff, Scott moved over to the traffic division for a couple years, and then he joined the Community Action Team ( CAT) for three years in community policing.
In 2000, Scott became a captain with duties over North Columbia, North Main, Fairfield, Monticello, and Farrow. He was promoted to major, putting him over divisions and departments regardless of geography.
On October 4, 2010, Scott entered the Columbia Police Department as its new interim chief, officially becoming the permanent chief on January 18.
Scott enjoys the career pride and the agency pride. There’s a sense of ownership among the police officers, and they have a certain independence where they can make most of their own decisions.
The officers go through nine weeks of pre- Academy training before the 18 weeks at the Academy on Broad River Road, a state institution fully funded by the state. The state imposes no tuition charge to any to the police departments who send their recruits to the Academy. Following the Academy, there’s another nine to 13 weeks for the Columbia police recruits as field training officers.
Scott is reading two career–track books: Textbook on Juveni le Justice and Leadership the West Point Way. He returns to teaching criminal justice ( CJ– 310) on April 22 at Limestone’s branch campus on Farrow Road. But this time he’s Columbia’s police chief.