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Former Columbia chief takes over Orangeburg police for now

October 3, 2021 GMT

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — A law enforcement veteran who served as police chief in Columbia for more than a decade will be the interim chief of the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety.

Charles Austin Sr. was hired Wednesday by the Orangeburg City Council after the abrupt retirement of Chief Mike Adams, The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg reported.

The city is also beginning a national search for a permanent chief, City Administrator Sidney Evering II said.

Adams hasn’t been in the office since late August when he took his annual leave. Sometime during his absence, he decided to retire after 35 years with the Orangeburg force.

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Adams’ retirement also came a few months after he held a news conference with the mayor and city administrator after an officer was arrested when investigators said he put his boot on the neck of a man who was already on his hands and knees and complying with orders.

“It could’ve been better,” Orangeburg City Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt said of Adams’ final months in office.

Austin, who served as Columbia’s police chief from 1990 to 2001, has Orangeburg connections. He is a South Carolina State University graduate and was director of campus police.

Austin currently teaches criminal justice administration at Benedict College in Columbia.

“He has been with law enforcement for many years and he really knows the ins and outs of policing. It is going to just be fantastic with what we are going to accomplish for the time he will be with us,” Keitt said.