Columbia, SC (WLTX) – For the first time in the search for a new police chief in Columbia, community members got a chance to hear from the four finalists.
Col. Gregory Reese, Chief of Security Forces at Air Force Space Command in Colorado, Tony Fisher, former Spartanburg Police Chief, William Holbrook, Police Chief in West Virginia and Bryan Norwood, former Richmond Virginia Police Chief answered questions from the community about why they should be selected as the new chief.
Candidates answered a number of questions from how to fix the gang problem in our city, to keeping violent crime numbers down and dealing with the beareucracy of the city's form of government.
Here is some of what the finalists had to say as they made their pitch to the community of why they are the best person for the job.
"The way to affect gangs in my opinion just like the other candidates said, is to affect and marginalize the gang leaders, to not have them become the role models to not have them feel like the leaders they have become in the community. To get back to our 10 year olds, our 15 year olds, our 12 year old and have them look at the police of Columbia saying that's the person I want to be not that thug over there," said Col. Gregory Reese, Chief of Security Forces at Air Force Space Command in Colorado.
"I don't want to give you the impressions that because you have a great police chief that crime is going to be lower. If the housing authority is not able to work with us, if we are not able to get some neighborhood leaders involved, if we are not able to get the business folks on board, then we are going to continue to have a crime problem. So it is a collective approach of neighborhood, business, a strategic effort on law enforcement part, it is a corporate effort," said Tony Fisher, former Spartanburg Police Chief.
"I think the strategy for sustaining is that community engagement and changing that cycle of repeat offending and being strategic in how we use our resources and identify the crimes that are occurring and why they are occurring. I think we have learned to not just count statistics, it's not all about arrests it's about identifying problems and solving problems," said William Holbrook, Police Chief in West Virginia.
"In 2012 we celebrated the lowest recorded violent crime in the history or recorded violent crime. But how did we do that? We used every resource and every asset and empowered every citizen to be a part of the solution process. So everyone felt like they had a stake in this game. Everyone in the Richmond, Virginia community felt like they played a key role in reducing crime and it showed," said Bryan Norwood, former Richmond Virginia Police Chief.
Also, Norwood addressed why he resigned from his chief job in Richmond Virginia. He said it had nothing to do with an investigation about singer Chris Brown's community service. Some claimed his hours were forged, but Norwood says that wasn't the case.
Now moving forward the ball is in City Manager Teresa Wilson's court.
"At this point the decision is mine and I recognize that and whether or not I re-engage a couple of these folks or have my decision determined based off the engagement with the four or decide to bring back two, I don't know yet," said Wilson.
Wilson hopes to still have a new chief in office by mid-March.