The Columbia media, such as WIS and The State are screaming out in headline stories the controversy surrounding Columbia Police Chief Dean Crisp. The headlines grab one’s attention, but once you get into the stories, there seems not to be that much there.
First, the Chief is accused of letting his adult son and father into crime scenes. He is also accused of letting a Hollywood movie worker into a crime scene. No one accuses the Chief of allowing the crime scenes to be contaminated; only the access is questioned.
When I read those accusations, I thought “What’s the big deal?” First, let’s look at the father’s access to a crime scene. The Chief’s father is a retired law enforcement officer from North Carolina. The man knows his way around a crime scene. Further, I am in business, and father was and is a very good business man, there are times I share with him information and asked for his advice. To me there is nothing wrong with the Chief going to his father and saying, “Hey dad, come take a look at this and tell me what you think.” Indeed, there was even a country music video that glorified such a situation by Toby Keith entitled, “Beer for My Horses.” Go check it out on yahoo music and see it.
Then there is the son situation. When I was a small boy, about 7 or 8, my dad was a textile plant manager. He took into his plant and showed me what he did. I imagine some would call him a criminal for that in today’s world. But, the fact that a father wants his son to see what it is he does is perfectly normal. Indeed, we have days that daughters and sons come to work all over the business world. The fact that the Chief’s son was grown does not change that. That just means the young man was old enough to understand the situation.
Let’s move on to the Hollywood movie worker incident. Who, prominent in any profession, has not had some reporter, some movie worker, some writer, approach them and want access to their business, crime scene, and the like? The Chief seems to me guilty of being a nice guy in this regard. I assume he said something like, “Sure, you can take a look, but stay out of the way. “ Frankly, what local chief or sheriff has not done something like that?
Then there is the allegation The State raises in its article that really makes me shake my head. In their article of the day, they talk about a military officer from Afghanistan being arrested for an altercation with a hotel staffer and somehow attribute that to the Chief since the officer was attached to the Columbia city police department. First, what police chief in his right mind would refuse such a person when the federal government requested they be placed with his department to train in this current climate? Second if and I stress if, the allegations are true, how could the Chief control that?
There is something going one with Chief Crisp that has less to do with his job performance and more to do with some political gamesmanship. The numbers about crime in Columbia are improving under his watch. The media storm surrounding him in the Midlands right now seems to be based on things that are marginal at best.
I believe there is someone in the political know in the Midlands that the Chief ticked off. That someone is pushing all the political buttons. The State attributed attorney Hemphill Pride accusing Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County being that someone. I do not know that and I will not speculate. I believe the Sheriff, like the Chief, is a dedicated law enforcement officer and I would be shocked if the Sheriff was playing this kind of politics.
But, my political instincts do tell that someone in the political know is ticked off at the Chief and trying to give the Chief a case of what one former legislator calls “Congaree fever” It is a shame. The Chief seems to have done nothing wrong.