By Betsy Finklea
Josh Holt is serving as the new Town of Latta Chief of Police.
Holt was hired for the position on January 8th.
Being the chief is a new experience from his previous duties. “It’s really different than being on patrol,” said Holt. Holt said former Chief Derrick Cartwright, who left to work as an investigator at the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office, prepared him well during the time before he left, but he “did not have a full picture until he was in the seat.” He said he is still able to call Cartwright to discuss things and ask questions when needed. Holt said overall it has been a “smooth transition.”
Holt has many things he would like to accomplish as chief including expanding the K-9 unit and obtaining a narcotics detection dog. He said he would like for the other officers to get involved with these programs. Holt wants to work with the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office, Lake View Police Department, and the City of Dillon on violent crimes. His goal is to make the town safer than when he received it.
Holt wants to expand community policing and to continue to work with the youth program, Save Our Youth Mentoring Movement. He said he has enjoyed the police department’s involvement in the school supplies drive, gala fundraiser, and other events.
Holt also wants the department to continue to improve their technology. He said they are now writing reports and issuing tickets by computer and are able to check NCIC, all from their vehicles. He said this makes the process faster and more efficient.
Holt also wants to continue to building the relationship with the community, the citizens, and the businesses.
Holt wants to get all of his officers trained in drug interdiction and then team up with the Sheriff’s Office on some operations in the future.
Holt has served as an EMT and firefighter. He is member of the Latta Rescue Squad and a lifetime member of the Latta Fire Department, where he previously served as chief.
Holt said as a member of these organizations, he learned about dealing with people at their worst and making it better. He said Randy Grimsley taught him a great deal about this.
Holt has had many other mentors. He fondly recalled the late Lorenzo Owens, a longtime City of Dillon Police Officer, who he called one of his biggest mentors. He said Owens taught him about dealing with suspects and that they are human beings with rights and should be treated as such. Owens told him about the importance of talking with people and building a rapport with them, something he continues to do even now. He said he has various senior ladies that he will sop and chat with, and he stops in at local businesses. Holt feels it is important to make connections and to get to know who you are serving.
Holt said watching some of the older officers, he learned about compassion and how to be a good police officer. He said he learned a great deal from Jason Turner, who is still with the City of Dillon Police Department, and Johnnie Myers, a former city officer, about investigations. Other officers he recalled as mentors are Bobby Powers, former Sheriff Harold Grice, Reggie Thompson, and Johnnie Mae Smith, and others that are too many to name. He learned a great deal about the fire service from the late Dick Richardson and the late Buck Thompson. “I have had a lot of good mentors,” Holt said.
Holt hopes to have an enjoyable time in this next step in his career, and he plans to stay around for a long time and serve the town. “I love living in Latta and the community,” said Holt. He looks forward to some of the things that the Town of Latta plans to do like improving the water and sewer and other projects and said he hopes to be a part of it. He appreciates the confidence of the Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor and the Latta Town Council in selecting him for the job of chief.
Holt is a 2000 graduate of Dillon High School, attended Florence-Darlington Technical College, and is a graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.