Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott would manage the Columbia Police Department for one year before turning over the reins to a police chief he helps hire, according to a compromise Mayor Steve Benjamin announced this morning.
Speaking to a breakfast meeting of the United Way of the Midlands Young Leaders Society, Benjamin said Columbia is “too large a city, too important a city, to not have its own police chief. I believe that is important that we have a chief of police. We will hire a chief of police.”
But Benjamin said he doesn’t want to hire a new chief until Lott can come up with a plan for how the city’s police department can work with the sheriff’s department, which along with the State Law Enforcement Division is the only law enforcement agency in the state to have its own forensics lab.
That plan would be due April 15, Benjamin said. From April 15 to Oct. 15, Lott would help the city implement that plan while looking for a new police chief.