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Columbia police chief Jill Schlude began as chief on December 4, 2023 (2023 file photo courtesy of city of Columbia)

(LISTEN): Columbia’s new police chief to be sworn-in tonight

Incoming Columbia police chief Jill Schlude briefs reporters at city hall on November 15, 2023, as city manager De’Carlon Seewood and Mayor Barbara Buffaloe listen (photo courtesy of Columbia spokeswoman Sydney Olsen)

Columbia’s first female police chief would like to see a recruitment and retention plan in place in the next 90 days.

Columbia assistant police chief Jill Schlude will be sworn-in as chief at tonight’s city council meeting. Recruitment and retention across-the-board is one of her top priorities.

“We have fewer females in the department than over the years when I’ve been there. There’s some great initiatives out there to get more women involved in law enforcement. We … ideally, we talk about this, but ideally our ranks would reflect the community. That’s a very high goal. But I think we can get closer if we’re very mindful and focused on meeting that goal,” Schlude tells reporters.

The 46-year-old Schlude has been with CPD since 2005. Columbia assistant police chief Jeremiah Hunter tells 939 the Eagle that Columbia Police are currently more than 40 officers short. Another top priority for Schlude is answering 911 calls.

18 candidates applied for the position. City manager De’Carlon Seewood made the chief’s selection, telling 939 the Eagle that Schlude will do a great job for the city. Mr. Seewood says that she shined during the interview process, adding that Schlude can make sure the department is constantly moving forward.

“And that continuity of making sure that there’s not a huge interruption, I think she can do that. So I’m excited,” says Schlude.

Chief Schlude’s annual salary will be $165,000. Former Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones retired in August, after serving as chief since 2019. Matt Stephens has been serving as the interim chief.


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