By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) Deputy Chief Chris Cowan will become the next Cayce chief of police, effective Oct. 4, 2021.

“This is a bittersweet announcement,” said Richland County Sheriff Lott. “Chief Cowan will be missed, but it’s like watching one of your children achieve their goal. I have no doubt he will serve the citizens of Cayce with the same professionalism and integrity as he’s done for Richland County.”

Cowan has been with RCSD for nearly 30 years serving in a variety of leadership capacities. His most recent position has been that of deputy chief, commanding the Operations Division.

According to a statement released by the City of Cayce: “Deputy Chief Chris Cowan is known for his extensive experience leading special operations, homeland security, crime suppression, professional development, community policing, media relations and business and community crime prevention units.”

Cayce City Manager Tracy Hegler said: “Cowan’s impeccable professional standards and qualifications made him stand out among the many that applied for the chief of police position.”

Moreover, “we are thrilled to announce the hiring of a decorated leader from what was recently named the nation’s top department from the National Sheriff’s Association [NSA],” added Hegler, referring to Sheriff Lott’s having been named 2021 National Sheriff of the Year by the NSA.

A former U.S. Naval officer, Cowan is a graduate of the University of South Carolina (BA in political science) and he holds a Master’s Certificate from the Australian Institute of Police Management. He is also a graduate of South Carolina Leadership Executive Institute, the FBI National Academy, the FBI Command Leadership Institute, and the FBI Hazardous Devices School Executive Management program.

Cowan has worked extensively with both foreign and domestic police forces and other agencies; including the London Metropolitan Police, the Staffordshire England Police, the Queensland (Australia) Police Service, the Australia Federal Police, the Hong Kong Police, the Bulgarian Police Service and the Rheinland Polizei, as well as LAPD, NYPD, and the North Carolina Justice Academy.

A recipient of the S.C. Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Officer of the year and The American Lawman magazine Officer of the Quarter – among other awards, honors, and decorations – Cowan has served as president of the S.C. Law Enforcement Officers Association, president of the Blythewood Rotary Club, chair of Crime Stoppers of the Midlands, and a charter member of the S.C. Crime Stoppers Council.

“[Cowan] will lead our department with the community-based policing and high-level professionalism that the City of Cayce is known for,” said Byron Snellgrove, director of the Cayce Department of Public Safety.  “He is someone I have worked with for many years, and I know he will bring the same level of compassion and service to this department that he has to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.”

The Cayce Department of Public Safety, which has long-encompassed fire and police under one roof, will create separate fire and police departments, effective January 1, 2022.
Cowan will continue to serve as RCSD deputy chief until Oct. 1.