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      City councilman's proposal would contract Sheriff Lott to run Columbia Police Department

      Press Conference

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) -- City Councilman Cameron Runyan released details of his plan that would have Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott oversee Columbia's Police Department.

      Runyan says his new proposal would create a "more effective, unified police service.

      â??I want to make this absolutely clear.â?? said Runyan. â??I have confidence in our police officers. They have overcome every challenge before then, cut violence by 25% and reduced overall crime by 5% last year.â??

      The proposal would contract Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott to run the Columbia Police Department. Runyan believes it would create a 'seamless and beautified' law enforcement of over 1000 dollars and create a $75 million budget.

      Mayor Benjamin commented on the proposal, saying that public safety is and always has been is top priority. "Iâ??m open to any proposal that promotes cooperation and devotes more resources to keeping our neighborhoods and our families truly safe. says Mayor Benjamin."My hope is that we have an opportunity to hear from all the people before we make a decision either way because this discussion shouldnâ??t be limited to City Council. The only way we can truly move forward on this issue is if we move forward together.â??

      Runyan says Charlotte and Jacksonville are two of several cities that are already operate under simliar plans.

      The City of Columbia has already narrowed down it's search for the city's top cop, but Runyan says he will push forward regardless of whether City Manage Teresa Wilson hires a CPD Chief.

      Wilson has announced five candidates: Tony Fisher, William Holbrook, Bryan Norwood, Charles Rapp and Gregory Reese.

      Missing from the list of finalists is Columbia's current Interim Chief Ruben Santiago.

      The City Councilman said the change could happen as soon as July 1st. He believes this issue will be discussed at City Council meeting this Tuesday.

      This same issue was shot down by a 6-1 city council vote in 2010 , where council decided to hire a police chief.

      Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott will hold a press conference today at 3:30pm at Richland County Sheriff's headquarters building on Two Notch Road. The Sheriff will discuss the on going examination related to the merger of the Sheriff's Department and Columbia Police Department.

      WACH will be streaming this press conference live HERE and WACH Fox News at 10.