Columbia city manager announces police chief search committee

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

In announcing the committee members, Wilson said she wants to have an open and equitable search for a new chief to lead the Columbia Police Department. The five-member panel is expected to help narrow the pool of candidates who will be interviewed and to help with the interviews, she said.

“As this process unfolds we will continue to operate openly and in the best interest of this community at large,” Wilson said. “ The selection of a police chief for our great city is a critical decision, and I will continue to work diligently to make sure that all appropriate measures are taken to select a candidate that meets the needs of the people and the officers of the Columbia Police Department who so nobly serve us each and every day.”

All five search committee members have experience in law enforcement.

The chairman is Robert Bolchoz, a Columbia attorney who ran for state attorney general in 2010 and for City Council in 2012. Bolchoz is also a former prosecutor in Charleston and in the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.

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 city opened its search for a new chief 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.

Wilson has said she hopes to have a new chief in place by mid-March.

The Columbia Police Department has been operating 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.