July 4, 2014 12:42:57 AM
The new commander of the Criminal Investigations Division at the Columbus Police Department said he is hoping to work with the community to help create a trust in the department.
Brent Swan, 40, has 19 years of law enforcement experience.
The Columbus City Council unanimously voted to hire Swan during their Tuesday night board meeting. He will earn $52,000 a year, according to Pat Mitchell of the city's human resource department. The hire was effective immediately.
Before coming to Columbus, Swan trained cadets at the Mississippi Delta Community College Law Enforcement Training Center. The Monroe County native also recently served a 17-month tour in Afghanistan training U.S. troops on battlefield forensics, tactical site exploitation and tactical interviewing.
A graduate of the FBI National Academy, Swan described himself as a fair but firm leader.
"I want to be the type of supervisor or the type of person that investigators can come to," he said. "I've got an open door policy. I don't want anybody to feel timid coming in here and talking with me about anything. Whether it's a member of the community, a member of the police department or anything else. I want them to be able to come in here, feel comfortable, sit down and carry on a conversation and try to come up with an end result of whatever the problem is."
Swan said he wants the community to feel confident in the department and instill a deep-rooted relationship between the two.
"My plan is to make us the most efficient we can be, the most effective we can possibly be," Swan said. "I definitely want the investigators to work with the community, to try to help solve crimes, especially crimes that we don't have any leads on. I want the community to feel comfortable coming to the Columbus Police Department, talking to an investigator and knowing that we're going to listen to them and we're going to do everything we possible can to try to help the community, to better the community to try to solve some of these crimes."
When asked about the number of unsolved murders in Columbus, Swan said he would personally review each cold case.
"I am aware of them and they will be a priority," he said. "Any open homicides in the past will definitely be a priority for us. I will personally review all of them. Fortunately, we've got some people who are very familiar with them that can brief me on them and try to help us with those."
Swan said in reviewing the cases, he hopes to be able to use technology for a possible break in the case.
"Technology has changed, advancements have been made," he said. "I've really learned a lot about DNA, I know a lot about DNA evidence and how to process it and what we can do with it so I'm definitely going to try to get some new leads."
While the CPD has their own crime lab, they cannot process DNA like the Mississippi Crime Lab. Swan said he has a good working relationship with the Mississippi Crime Lab and plans to utilize those resources as well. At this point, however, Swan said he wants to get to know his staff and hopefully, add more investigators as the budget permits. The CID currently has seven investigators.
"My top priority is learning the staff, figuring out or strong point and figuring out our weaknesses and whatever our weaknesses are, to try to get that extra training to try to get everybody advanced to the level that where I feel that the investigators can handle anything we face.
"I know some of the investigators haven't been investigators very long and I want to be able to use my training, my experience to be able to get them to the level to where no matter what we face, they can take care of it. It's really too early for me to be able to tell what our case load is but I want enough investigators to be able to handle each case properly, efficiently, and make everybody that has a case with us, with the Columbus Police Department, to feel like we're working that case to the best of our ability."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.