Lodi Police Department names new chief, addresses plans for department

The Lodi Police Department named Wayne Smith as chief months after the former chief and multiple staff members left the department.

“Obviously, it’s exciting. It’s something I look forward to doing, but it comes with a little bit of good and bad,” Smith said. “I’m leaving the county that was home for 30 years.”

Smith was contracted by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department to fill in as chief for the Lodi Police Department after the former chief resigned earlier this year. During that time, the department lost about half of its staff.

“That’s a problem across law enforcement as a whole, having enough applicants that are qualified and applicants that are willing to do the job anymore,” Smith said.

However, Smith said he has a plan to turn that around in Lodi.

“It really seems like good leadership, good training, competitive pay and good equipment are four things that are easily controlled by the city and by the administrator of the department,” Smith said.

With those four qualities, Smith said officers will want to apply and stay.

“It’s already a great community, a good place to live, a good place to send your children to school, so there’s a lot of attractiveness to the city itself. So, it’s just making the department also attractive,” Smith said.

Also on his list of tasks as chief is to build connections with the community.

“Their Police Department was always here, even though it went through some tough times. Those things are repaired. We are still building those relationships and plan to make things better,” Smith said. “I hope that they, if they don’t already see that or feel that, they do soon.”

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