West Columbia Police, the city’s finest

The West Columbia Police Department is busy.

In August, officers handled 3,374 calls for service. Of those, 478 were traffic stops and 400 incident reports were written. Officers with the department made 117 arrests. Of those arrests, 18 were traffic arrests and 99 were criminal, including 58 felony arrests. Officers issued 328 citations and 285 warnings.

“Our officers do a great job,” said Assistant West Columbia Police Chief Scott Morrison.

West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton agreed. And he lauded Police Chief Dennis Tyndall for his professional management of the police department. Horton said the WCPD has received State and national recognition as one of the best.

Morrison said one example of the quality of officer in West Columbia is David Tyler Thompson. While stopping to help a motorist on Meeting Street, Thompson was struck by a car.

“It was a regular stop for a car that was disabled,” said Morrison. “He stopped and got out of his car,” Morrison said of Thompson. While Thompson was out of his police cruiser, a driver hit his car and the impact pushed the car into Thompson.

The incident involved a DUI driver and Morison said Thompson was fortunate that he was not hurt any worse. Because of the angle at which Thompson was struck, he was not pinned between two cars.

WCPD Chief Dennis Tyndall

At the September Greater Cayce-West Columbia Chamber of Commerce September Breakfast, Thompson was given the Officer-of-the-Month Award that is sponsored by West Columbia businesses First Community Bank and The Graphics Source.

“He’s a great officer,” Morrison said of Thompson. He said after the incident, Thompson was ready to get back to work.

“He loves his job,” Morrison said.

Horton gave some specifics.

“The response time for our police department is five minutes or less,” Horton said. “When you pick up the phone and call for an officer, they are there quickly.”

Recently the City has annexed residences into the city’s jurisdiction. Horton said even with the new homes in the city, reposnse time has not been affected.

“The police department is as fast responding as ever, even with the annexation,” Horton said.

Morrison said a full staff for the WCPD includes 53 Class One officers. To ensure the good work continues, earlier this year the West Columbia Police Department created a recruitment program to meet the growing need for qualified applicants.

The new program includes increased starting salaries for police officers and ways to remain competitive throughout an officer’s career with additional promotion opportunities and other incentives to retain trained officers.

Officer David Tyler Thompson of the West Columbia Police Department received the Officer of the Month award at the September Cayce-West Columbia Chamber Breakfast. He is pictured with Capt. John Norman and Richard Skipper, executive of the C-WC Chamber.

“The applicant pool for the profession of police officer has dwindled over the years,” said Tyndall. “Recruiting and retaining the best qualified candidates for police officers has been a challenge for law enforcement agencies across the state. It takes nine months to a year to hire and train an officer depending on how fast we can get them into the Criminal Justice Academy. With our new salary and benefits package, I am confident we will attract and retain good, qualified, and professional officers.”

Since the incentive package was implemented in July, Morison said the number of applicants for jobs at the WCPD has increased. He also said the key to hiring quality officers, is a broad pool of applicants.

Horton said the leadership of the police department is committed to “hiring and retaining quality officers.” He said that’s why West Columbia City Council funding in the 2018-19 budget to attract the best highest quality possible.

Horton also said aside from financial incentives, the WCPD has instituted training programs and other features to “attract the best officers.”

As a part of the incentive package recently instituted, the starting salary for a new recruit to the department has increased to $39,964.09. If the applicant is already a certified officer, the starting salary is $41,602.23. The new program includes an $1,500 recruitment bonus for new officers, extending the range for take home vehicles, and a $150 monthly stipend for bilingual employees who serve the population in their daily work.

While there are many superlatives to describe the department staffs of the City of West Columbia, West Columbia’s finest can certainly be found in the police department.

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