Police Chief Randy Scott celebrates first year on the job
It has been a busy year for Chief Randy Scott of the Columbia Police Department. First, he had to fill 56 openings at the department. He accomplished this, but as situations change, so do the number of officers at the department.
Scott implemented the PACE unit, or Proactive Community Enforcement. The unit, similar to Richland County’s Community Action Team, is a city wide unit made up of 14 officers.
Transparency has been a goal of Scott’s. He wants to make sure communities are aware of the crime that is happening in Columbia. “ When I first started that, I think it caused a pause in the community because it had the appearance of a lot more crime going on in Columbia when in fact it wasn’t.”
Scott wants to ensure the residents have confidence in the service they are getting from the officers. That begins, according to Scott, with education, and to provide opportunities for the officers, The Columbia Police Department has partnered with schools like Phoenix University and Limestone College. “ It’s more than just having a degree; it’s broadening their horizons on the whole aspect of law enforcement. When you have a better educated officer, when you have a more motivated officer, you’re going to have an officer who comes to your door who is going to be respectful, who is going to take your issue, regardless of what it is, and put it at the forefront of their responsibility.”
Scott is also learning new techniques to make the department more efficient. During the weekend of October 22, 2011, Scott was in Chicago attending the International Association of Chief of Police Conference learning about the tactics used in police departments in other areas of the world. He learned about a device that can be used by officers in dangerous situations. Not only is the new device cheaper than other ones that Scott had researched, $100,000 compared to $500,000, but it also offers a higher protection rating for the officers.
During his first year, Scott has had to deal with many high profile cases such as the Five Points incident where Carter Strange was beaten by eight boys. While the case may have brought more pressure for Scott to find those responsible for the crime, he says it was just as important to restore confidence in the community. “ You have to make sure the community believes you are doing what is necessary to prevent it from happening again. I’m a big proponent of doing what’s right and preventing crime.”
The curfew in Five Points has helped the Five Points area out greatly, according to Scott. “ The curfew spring boarded the communication. It was always the undercurrent of conversations, but when council voted to do the curfew, that catapulted parents to engage in conversation with their young people,” Scott said.
Scott has accomplished a lot without the perceived notion of Columbia City Council micromanaging the police department, a concern by many when the search for a new chief began in the summer of 2010. “ I believe the relationship that I have with city council is very good. There is not a city council person I’m not in communication with on a weekly basis.” City council gave an additional $ 800,000 to the Columbia Police Department’s budget.
While working for the Police Department does take a great deal of time, Scott has also found opportunities to get involved with charitable events such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. “I think as law enforcement, we are an integral part of the community, and as long as you have a one way division, that your only responsibility is crime control, then you have sectioned yourself out in so much you can do for the community. If me putting a dress on gives someone a laugh and helps raise money to prevent diseases or finds a cure then I’m good with that.”
Scott says, “To access my first year on the job, I’m just proud to be a part of the City of Columbia. It has been a wonderful, and continues to be a wonderful experience, but there is so much more that I want to do. Not even close to being there yet.”