Wednesday, July 17, 2013
There is a new man in charge of the Andrews Police Department.
Nine months after Jennifer Flowers was fired from her position as the town’s police chief, a new permanent chief has been hired.
Joseph Cooper, who has been in law enforcement since 1995, has taken over the position that had been held on an interim basis by Sgt. Verney Cumbee since Flowers’ departure.
Cooper was a lieutenant for the Lake City Police Department, a job he held since 2000. Before that he worked for the Columbia Police Department. He has also worked in Florence County Sheriff’s Office.
In Lake City — where he grew up — Cooper was the lead investigator in drug and gang activity. He said he will put that experience to good use in Andrews.
“We will look at what we have going on here. You have a younger population here (than in Lake City),” Cooper said during an interview Monday.
While he does not yet know if there is any major crime activity in Andrews, Cooper said he would not be surprised.
“Sometimes criminal organizations look for small towns. We will have a good proactive policy,” he said.
Cooper, whose first day was July 8, said since he grew up in a small town, he works well in small towns which is one reason he applied for the position.
“When you are in a small town, you can devote more time to being the chief. There is not a large influx of any one type of criminal activity,” Cooper, who also served eight years in the United States Army, said.
While on the Columbia Police force, Cooper earned a certificate of achievement for rescuing a child from a burning apartment.
The certificate said because of Cooper’s quick thinking, he prevented the child from being injured.
Being hired in Andrews is the fulfillment of one of Cooper’s career goals. In a 2008 article in the Lake City News and Post, Cooper was quoted as saying he wanted to one day be a police chief.
He said he wants to get the department — which has nine officers — up-to-date with the latest technology so other activity such as cyber crimes can be adequately investigated.
“We have to do these things. You can’t just sit back and be complacent,” he said.
He notes there are several schools in Andrews and his department needs to be trained and ready to go at a moment’s notice if there was ever a crisis, such as a shooting, at any of them.
“We need to be trained on the proper response,” he said.
Cooper said he is not just using Andrews as a stepping stone in his career.
“I plan to stay as long as they will have me,” he said.
Cooper, age 45, is single with two children.
By Scott Harper