Police department is highly equipped and trained to protect and serve

The uniform of PFC Eugene Hammill is filled with tools to do his job.

Things have come a long way for the West Columbia Police Department. Under the leadership of Police Chief Dennis Tyndall, today’s officers are highly equipped with the latest technology, and they are rigorously trained to use it.

“The evolution of technology is astounding,” said Assistant West Columbia Police Chief Scott Morrison. The WCPD has a personnel count of 55 when fully staffed. And Morrison said the department is always looking for ambitious recruits, who want to join a top-quality police force.

Expect it to be the most up-to-date. Even the uniform, that was once ties and dress shirts, has changed.

“We have more a BDU (battle dress uniform) said PFC Eugene Hammil of the West Columbia Police Department. He has been with the WCPD for five years and Hammill said each year more equipment is added for officers. And it helps him do his job.

“The technology is always getting better,” said Hammill. Hammill likely has more equipment assigned to him that the whole police department of old may have had.

He carries a service weapon, a taser, a body camera, pepper spray, handcuffs, a body mic, a baton, first aid materials, and a flashlight. And that’s just on his belt. He also wears a Kevlar vest and in the trunk of the vehicle there is an AR-15 and a shotgun.

In the car

Hammill is a member of the WCPD’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT.) Therefore, he is assigned the AR-15. Those weapons were bought via the West Columbia Police Department Foundation proceeds and the WCPD received a grant from retired Police Officer David Arnold.

SORT members also have helmets and thicker vests that shield against heavier ammunition, said Morrison. Hammill’s thick-plated vest is his service vehicle. The SORT is called out for situations that may involved a barricaded suspect, a hostage situation or incidents similar to those.

In addition to all of the equipment West Columbia Police officers have on their person, there’s even more in the Dodge Charger made for police, that Hammill drives. Before he was issued the Charger, Hammill drove a Crown Victoria. The department also has Impalas in its fleet. Hammill said the older lights on the cars had the old blue lights on top that could be heard when they revolved. The Charger has LED lights.

“It has a license plate reader,” said Hammill. The LPR detects plates that correspond with outstanding warrants, stolen vehicles or other reported tags involving criminal activity.
The car is also equipped with both-direction radar, and a dash camera. Besides evolving technology, Morrison said officers with the WCFD receive more training than ever before. Recruits receive 10 weeks of training at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. As WCPD officers, they undergo 10 weeks of field training. And training is always ongoing.

“We have gone from one day of annual training to two days,” said Morrison. In addition to that officers must qualify with their weapons. “Officers get what they need,” said Morrison. We want them to be be equipped and taught so that they are the best.”

Looking for qualified recruits:

The West Columbia Police Department has 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.

“The applicant pool for the profession of police officer has dwindled over the years,” said Police Chief Dennis 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.”

To apply to be a part of the West Columbia Police Department team, go to: https://westcolumbiasc.gov/employment/

Categories: Lexington County, West Columbia