General Questions

Where do I go to file a report or to add information to my report?

You can speak to an Officer at the Telephone Response Unit desk in CPD Headquarters

File an on-line report by clicking HERE.

I locked my keys in my vehicle.

The Columbia Police Department will respond to vehicle lock-outs if it is an emergency situation.  If a non-emergency situation, you need to contact a locksmith or towing service.

Residential Housing Regulations

Who needs to get a Residential Rental Permit?

A residential rental permit is required for all residential rental units in the City of Columbia. If an owner resides in the unit or if the unit is under a written contract to be bought by the occupant, a permit is not required. The Code Enforcement Division reserves the right to request documentation to support any exemptions.

I have a Business License; Do I still need a rental permit?

Yes. A rental permit is required for all residential rental units in the City of Columbia even if you have a business license and/or are a Professional Management Company. However if you have a business license as a Professional Management Company the fee for the permit is waived. Please provide a copy of your business license with the application. Please note that a business license is required for anyone who owns or manages 5 or more rental units.  

How much does the permit cost?

The cost of the permit is $25 a year per unit. However if you have a business license as a Professional Management Company the fee for the permit is waived. Please provide a copy of your business license with the application.

Will the City mail me the application?

Unfortunately due to the large volume of applications we are taking at this time we are unable to mail the application. The application is available online HERE or available for pick up in the Code Enforcement Division.

When do I have to get the permit?

The ordinance is effective on July 1, 2016. We are accepting applications now and have set a grace period for compliance until October 1, 2016.

Where do I get the permit?

The application is available HERE or available for pick up in the Code Enforcement Division at 1136 Washington Street, on the second floor. Rental permits will be issued beginning on July 1, 2016 at the same location. Permits will be available for pick up on July 1st for the applications received prior to that date.

How long is the permit good for?

The permit is good for one year from the date of issuance. If you have a specific date that you would like the permit to renew each year, we can set it to expire on that date and prorate any permit fee associated with it.

Can anyone get the rental permit?

Either the owner of the property or a local agent can apply for the permit. The local agent can be a Professional Management Company. Any outstanding fees owed to the City must be paid prior to issuance of the permit. Both the owner and the designated local agent must sign the application.

What if I have more than one rental unit?

A residential rental permit is required for each rental unit. The applications are designed to allow you to apply for as many permits as needed on one application. Please provide a separate self-checklist for each unit or request a courtesy inspection of the units by one of our inspectors. For structures with 5 or more units you may submit 1 checklist per structure certifying that all units within that structure meet the minimum safety standards.

I have a family member who lives there; do I still need a permit?

If any person is paying rent, paying utilities or other fees, or similar in-kind services to the owner of the property, a permit is required.  

Am I required to hire a Professional Management Company?

No. A local agent is required within 45 miles of the City of Columbia. The local agent can be a relative or a friend that you designate to take responsibility of the property and serve as our primary contact.

Code Enforcement

Overgrown Lots – what constitutes an overgrown lot and who to call (2012 International Property Maintenance Code – IPMC)

Weeds and plant growth, including grasses, annual plants and vegetation greater than 12 inches in height on average are in violation. Trees, shrubs, cultivated flowers and gardens are excluded. To report a violation, please contact the Property Maintenance Division at 803-545-3430.

Roll carts – what are the rules? (City Code)

All roll carts shall be placed at the curbside by 8:00 AM and removed from curbside by 7:30 PM on the day of collection. To report a violation, please contact the Property Maintenance Division at 803-545-3430.

Signs in right-of-way (Zoning)

No sign shall be placed in the public-right-of-way, except as may be exempted by State statue or as set forth in 17-407 of the Columbia City Code. Any unlawful sign found located within a public right-of-way shall be removed and discarded without notice. To report a violation, please contact the Zoning Division at 803-545-3333.

Peeling paint, etc. (IPMC)

All exterior wood surfaces, other than decay-resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or applying protective covering or treatment. Peeling, flaking and chipped paint shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted. To report a violation, please contact the Property Maintenance Division at 803-545-3430.

Abandoned cars – license plate expired, on home owners property and abandoned on street (IPMC)

No inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicle shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled. To report a violation on private property, please contact the Property Maintenance Division at 803-545-3430 or the City Police Department for vehicles parked on the street at 803-545-3500.

Cars parked in front yard (Zoning) – rules of “defined improved surface”

No person shall park a vehicle of any description, including but not limited to automobiles, trucks, vans, buses, motorcycles, all-terrain or similar off-road vehicles, recreational vehicles, motor homes, campers or camping trailers, trailers, boats, and jet skis within the front yard of any property used for residential purposes except upon an improved surface. An improved surface is a parking space and/or driveway that shall be paved with asphalt, brick, concrete, or covered with previous material such as crushed stone, gravel, or mulch. Parking spaces and driveway shall not occupy an area greater than 40 percent of the primary front yard or 500 square feet within the primary front yard, whichever area is greater. For more information or to report a violation, please contact the Zoning Division at 803-545-3333.

House in extreme disrepair (IPMC)

The exterior of a structure shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary so as not to pose a threat to the public health, safety or welfare. The interior of a structure and equipment therein shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and in a sanitary condition. Occupants shall keep that part of the structure and premises which they occupy or control in a clean and sanitary condition. To report a violation, please contact the Property Maintenance Division at 803-545-3430.

Apartments and Commercial Property Maintenance

The City of Columbia Police Department handles all Code Enforcement issues on any structure with 3 or more residential units or that is used commercially. To report a violation, please contact the Code Enforcement Division at 803-545-3430.

Number of unrelated people living in a dwelling (Zoning)

No more than three unrelated adults shall occupy a single dwelling unit. To report a violation, please contact the Zoning Division at 803-545-3333

Boats and RV’s – in front of houses on street, on prepared surface (on street – police, on prepared surface, Zoning)

Not more than one travel or camping vehicle per dwelling unit shall be permitted to be parked on a lot in any residential zone. The vehicle shall not be occupied temporarily or permanently while it is parked or stored, except in an authorized mobile home park. The vehicle must be parked on an improved surface if parked within the front yard. To report a violation on private property, please contact the Zoning Division at 803-545-3333 or the City Police Department for vehicles parked on the street at 803-545-3500.

Loud Music (Police)

It shall be unlawful for any person to maintain and operate in any building or on any premises in the city any radio device or mechanical musical instrument or device of any kind whereby the sound there from is cast directly upon the public streets and places in such a manner as to create unreasonably loud, excessive or disturbing noises. To report a violation, please contact the Columbia Police Department at 803-545-3500.


Can I get fingerprinted at CPD?

ONLY for Chauffer’s License, Name Changes, Challenges to Identity, Financial Institution employees, and for Concealed Weapon’s Permit

During what hours can I be fingerprinted at the Columbia Police Department?

Monday and Thursday: 9AM – 1PM and 2PM – 5PM

Wednesday: 9AM – 1PM

Friday: 9AM – 1PM

What type of payments do you take?

Cash.  No credit cards.  Checks accepted (only for residents of Richland County).

How much does it cost?

$15.00 for regular fingerprint cards

What documents are required?

  1. A valid (non-expired) government issued photo identification card must be presented before fingerprinting.
  2. Fingerprint Cards.

Records Unit

During what hours can I pick up my property from the Property Room?

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM (except on holidays)

During what hours can I pick up a report from the Records Department?

Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 5PM (except on holidays)

What do I need to bring?

  1. To obtain a copy of a report you must bring in a valid (non-expired) government issued photo ID and payment.
  2. A case number is very helpful as well.

What is the cost of acquiring various reports?

  1. We accept cash and checks only for reports.
  2. All auto accidents are $3.00

Incident Reports

  1. Free for Victims
  2. $3.00 for all others


Is the Columbia Police Department currently hiring?

Yes. The City of Columbia is continually searching for qualified applicants to fill entry-level Police Officer positions. Because of increasing staff levels, transfers, and retirements, the Columbia Police Department usually has at least one Police Officer vacancy at any given time. Applications accepted on a continuous basis, and the most qualified are selected to participate in the hiring process. Those not selected remain on file with the Human Resources Department.

What are the minimum requirements to be a Columbia Police Officer?

  1. Must be a U.S. citizen.
  2. Must be 21 years of age (birth certificate required).
  3. Must have a high school diploma or equivalent (documentation required).
  4. Must have a valid S.C. driver’s license with a good driving record.
  5. Must not have committed or been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor
  6. Must be in good physical health.

What documents do I need to attach to my application?

You will need copies of the following:

  1. Driver’s License
  2. Social Security Card
  3. Government issued Birth Certificate
  4. High School Diploma or GED
  5. Proof of citizenship if you are a naturalized citizen
  6. 10 year driving record (if you have a South Carolina Driver’s License)
  7. 10 year driving record from your home state or any state you had a driver’s license in the last 10 years
  8. Copy of a Credit report issued from Equifax, Experian or Transunion.

Is there anything that will automatically disqualify me?

Yes, If you have any criminal convictions misdemeanor or felony you need not apply. Also, unless there is an extenuating circumstance any suspension of your driving privilege is a disqualifier. Any DUI within 10 years is an automatic disqualifier.

Do you check my credit score and what is the minimum credit score needed to be hired?

We do not use credit scores to make a hiring decision; however, we do look at the overall credit history of the applicant. If you have charge-offs or have accounts in collection you have two options. First, you can pay them off or bring them up to date. If this is not feasible then you can contact a credit counseling service and work through them to establish a pay plan to bring your accounts current. If your have any liens, judgements or bankruptcies that have not been discharged you must first clear them before we can proceed with your application.

Do I have to pay off all my charge-off or collections account before you will process my application?

No, If you make arrangements with the creditor or go through a credit counseling service and provide documentation that you are paying on the accounts then we will proceed with your application.

How can I get a copy of a credit report?

You can get a free credit report from any of the 3 credit bureaus at the website The free copy is available one a year. You can also call a credit bureau and request one; however, it may take some time to get it that way.

Do I need to attach a resume?

A resume is not required, however, you may submit one if you would like to.

I cannot find a copy of my High School Diploma what do I need to do?

Contact your school and get a copy of your high school transcript. If you have a GED contact the school or agency you received your GED from.

Should I submit a copy of my college degree?

Yes, you can attach a copy of your college degree or a copy of your college transcript. A college degree can be used in place of a high school diploma.

How do I get a copy of a driver’s license history form another state I lived in?

You can search on-line and most states you can request it on-line or by mail.

How does the selection process work?

The City of Columbia’s Employment Office receives all applications for employment as a Police Officer Candidate or Police Officer. All completed Police Officer Application Packets are then forwarded to the Police Department within three weeks. Applicants will receive a letter from the Recruiter within five days of the Police Department’s receipt of the completed Police Officer Application Packet. The selection process consists of 11 steps and must be completed prior to hiring an applicant:

  1. Application accepted (completed with all required documents)
  2. Application screening (criminal history, driver’s license check, document verification)
  3. JRPAT Course
  4. Police Officer Selection Test (the only candidates exempt from this test are those with Bachelor’s degrees and/or already certified officers)
  5. Initial background interview (if applicable)
  6. Background investigation
  7. Conditional offer for employment
  8. Drug/alcohol screening
  9. Physical examination
  10. Psychological and polygraph examination; and
  11. Final offer of employment from Oral Review Board.

How long does the hiring process take?

It varies; however, we have been able to process most applicants in 1-3 months.

How long does my application remain on file?

Your application will remain active for one year. If you are not selected, you may reapply and be reconsidered.

If I am out of state how many times will I have to come to Columbia during the hiring process?

We will do our best to limit your traveling to Columbia. You will be required to make one visit to do your initial testing. This can be done in two days. Also, during this day you will meet with a background investigator. You would not normally need to come back until the conditional offer phase. This assumes you have passed all of the initial testing and the background check. If approved for a conditional offer we would setup your final testing during a two day period. If you pass all of the final testing and are approved you would have to return a third time for a final offer of employment. At this time you would be given hire date.

Do I get paid during my training?

Yes, once you are given a hire date your pay and full benefits begin on that date. Your training will begin after that date.

How long is the training?

Upon employment with the City of Columbia Police Department, the police officer candidate will be required to participate and successfully meet the requirements and standards affixed to each Training Program. Areas of training include, but are not limited to:

Columbia Police Department Basic Candidate School (Twelve Weeks) the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy’s Basic Law Enforcement School (Twelve Weeks) and the Columbia Police Department Field Training Program (Forty-Six Working Days)

Does the Columbia Police Department provide internships?

Yes. Contact a Recruiter at (803)545-3398 for details.

After being hired, how long will it be before I am sent to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy?

This time frame will vary. New hires will be initially assigned to the Training Division and will be required to attend the Columbia Police Department’s twelve-week Basic Candidate School. This will provide much of the needed initiation and training to prepare the new officer/candidate for the application.

How long does it take to complete the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy?

The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy lasts twelve weeks, and covers legal and procedural matters, as well as firearms and driver training/testing.

What benefits are offered by the Columbia Police Department?

The City of Columbia offers health, vision, dental, vacation & sick leave benefits. Shown below is an example of these benefits.

  1. Ten paid holidays per year
  2. Sick leave accrued at a rate of 8.5 hours per month
  3. Fifteen calendar days per year to fulfill military obligations (military leave)
  4. Tuition reimbursement program
  5. Vacation leave, accrued according to time in service: One through five years of continuous service – 85.0 hours per year; six through 20 years continuous service – 8.5 hours additional per year – maximum: 212.5 hours

Does the Columbia Police Department provide take-home cars?

Yes. For an officer to be eligible for a take-home car, they must reside within city limits.