Columbia, SC (WLTX) - New Columbia Police Chief William "Skip" Holbrook says he plans to help the city create a "world-class" police force, as he takes over a department that's had its troubles over the last year.
Calling him a "police officer's police officer," City Manager Teresa Wilson introduced Holbrook to the public Friday morning at police headquarters.
Holbrook got emotional as he first took the podium, taking a minute to compose himself before finishing his remarks.
He comes to Columbia from Huntington, West Virginia, where's he's served as chief for seven years. While in the that position, crime in Huntington has reached a 27-year low. Holbrook was the recipient of the Law Enforcement Officer of the year award from the West Virginia Association of Justice, and his agency has been nationally recognized for its work.
Wilson said she came to the conclusion that Holbrook was the right person for the job after traveling to Huntington and speaking with city and civic leaders there. She said they spoke highly of him, explaining that he's established strong connections with the various communities there and has worked to establish strong relationships with other law agencies.
The good feelings evidently were reciprocated. Holbrook says he immediately felt a connection with Columbia while touring the city and meeting with government, law enforcement, and community leaders over the last several weeks.
"It brought a peace over me that carried over throughout," he said.
He also has Carolina connections: during his career, he worked in law enforcement in North Carolina, including with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He also graduated from Pfeiffer University, which is in Misenheimer, North Carolina.
"It's an opportunity to come home again," he said. "The best years of my life were in the Carolinas...This will be our home."
Holbrook says he plans to get to work soon, and says outlining clear goals will be a focus of his job. He wants to create a 90 day action plan to address some immediate concerns, then plans to draft a five-year strategic plan. The long-term plan will have benchmarks for success and establish measurable goals and objectives,
"I'm very committed to this," he said. "You have to know where you're going if you ever want to get there."
He also praised the members of the members of the Columbia police department, and said he looks forward to serving with them.
"I pride myself on being a cop. I believe you lead by actions and not words. I won't let you guys down."
Holbrook officially submitted his resignation to Huntington's mayor Thursday. He'll be sworn in as the new chief on April 11th. He'll make an annual salary of $121,500.
Columbia has been without a permanent police chief since Randy Scott resigned last April. Ruben Santiago had been serving as interim chief, but resigned last week. Melron Kelly has been the acting chief since then.