Sheriff of the Year discusses recent national acclaim

In June, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott was named National Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff’s Association. A month later, he was awarded South Carolina Sheriff of the Year 2021 by the S.C. Sheriff’s Association. The reasons are myriad: Everything from high-tech innovations within his near-900 employee Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) to robust community outreach efforts and so much more.

Lott’s RCSD is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the Palmetto State, and for the past four years, it was one of six regularly featured law enforcement agencies on A&E’s top-rated TV series, LIVE PD. The department was in fact the only agency to have appeared on the program throughout all seasons from 2016 through its finale in 2020.

Then there are the international connections. In 2010, Lott traveled to Erbil, Iraq – at the invitation of the Iraqi government – to assist in the establishment, planning and training for the first-ever Iraqi female police academy. The academy project was an enormous success, as were the beneficial information-sharing and joint-training relationships engendered.

And there are his in-house programs like the department’s pre-PTSI (PTSD) conditioning program, which have become national models.

I [W. Thomas Smith Jr.] recently say down with Lott for to discuss RCSD, his national award and what has led to his success.