RCSD receives national peace officer certification

Sheriff Lott receives award for achieving yet another agency first

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) was recognized for its having been named the first law enforcement agency nationwide to achieve peace officer certification by national non-profit POLICE2PEACE, the brainchild behind the peace officer branding initiative and the peace officer promise. The recognition award was presented to Sheriff Leon Lott by Police2Peace boardmember Perry Bradley during RCSD’s quarterly PROACT (professionalism, accountability, coordination, and teamwork) meeting, Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

“Sheriff Lott, you, and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department are making history by again being first in the nation,” said Bradley, who also serves as executive director of Columbia’s Building Better Communities. “That is seriously impressive, and it demonstrates how exceptional your department’s performance is. Your hard work and dedication to creating a more empathetic, effective, and just society are paying off, and this award is proof of that.”

Bradley’s remarks followed a pre-recorded video message from Lisa Broderick, executive director of Police2Peace.

“Congratulations Sheriff Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department on receiving this prestigious award,” said Broderick in the message broadcast before nearly 100 RCSD deputies attending ProAct. “In doing so you lead the national conversation.”

Accepting the award, Sheriff Lott said: “This speaks to who we are as peace officers. Yes, we are law enforcement officers, but three percent of our time is involved in enforcing the law. The other 97 percent we are keeping the peace and serving in the capacity of peace officers.”

Literally hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the country have implemented their own peace officer branding since RCSD became the first in 2018 to begin emblazoning its vehicles with “peace officer.” The vehicle branding was followed by deputy uniforms in 2020.

Lott made the peace officer promise – essentially a pledge to do no harm to the communities served by RCSD – in May 2022 on the grounds of the S.C. State House in Columbia. Since then, more than 300 law enforcement agencies and police organizations from around the country have expressed agreements with Police2Peace, and are in the active process leading toward official peace officer promises of their own. Among those are the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Police Department, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and many others.

RCSD completed its official peace officer certification training in December 2022.

Following the Police2Peace presentation, numerous internal awards for heroism, excellence, and community service were presented by Lott to deputies along with recognitions made and certificates presented for time in service.

The ProAct meeting and award ceremony was held at the department’s Denny Terrace Training Division headquarters auditorium.

– Pictured are Sheriff Leon Lott and Perry Bradley with Building Better Communities

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