By W. Thomas Smith, Jr.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) has been retrofitting deputy uniforms, both shirts and ballistic vests, with the words PEACE OFFICER stitched below the already existing words, DEPUTY SHERIFF. RCSD is the first and so-far the only law enforcement agency nationwide to do so.
“Peace officers are who we are, and it’s who we’ve always been,” says Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “Granted, our mission is to enforce the law – and that is vitally important – but enforcing the law is but one of the component missions of our much broader mission of ensuring and preserving the peace.”
The PEACE OFFICER branding initiative is not new for RCSD. In 2018, the department took part in a still-ongoing academic study facilitated by Police2Peace and New York University’s BetaGov aimed at determining the impact of words and public perception by marking all RCSD vehicles with the words PEACE OFFICER. Other law enforcement agencies have since followed suit.