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Midlands Law Enforcement Officers Receive International Award

Two Midlands law enforcement officers are among those honored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

The IACP’s 2016 40 Under 40 award winners include Chief Kevin Cornett of the Springdale Police Department and Deputy Chief Melron Kelly of the Columbia Police Department.

The awards recognize 40 law enforcement professionals under the age of 40 from around the world who demonstrate leadership and commitment to their profession. The IACP chose the winners based on demonstration of values and commitment to law enforcement as well as capacity for leadership.

“I am humbled by the recognition and am proud to receive the award,” Cornett said. “However, it is the amazing men and women that I work with and have worked with that have even led to my nomination.”

“I am grateful to be included in this elite group of award winners, especially from an organization that I respect,” Kelly says. “Success attained over the years is a blessed gift. As a product of Columbia and while living my childhood dream, it’s important not to forget your roots.”

Columbia Police Chief Holbrook said “Deputy Chief Kelly is a dynamic leader who brings great balance, perspective and humility to the Columbia Police Department. His leadership style is exactly what is needed to address the many challenges and opportunities facing law enforcement today.”

Cornett and Kelly will receive their awards at the annual IACP Conference in California in October.

Cornett graduated from Lower Richland High School, then attended Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama, where he received his commission into the US Army.

Cornett began his policing career with the City of Columbia Police Department in Columbia, SC. He began his career patrolling in the South Region and was assigned to the Rosewood Drive area. He was then assigned to the South Region Community Response Team (CRT). While on CRT Chief Cornett attended community meetings and addressed several types of community complaints. His primary assignment on CRT was to work the 5 Points night life. Chief Cornett was promoted to Corporal and served as a patrol supervisor in the Metro Region, downtown Columbia. Chief Cornett was then selected to start the Warrant Team. His primary responsibility was to locate and arrest individuals with outstanding warrants. He played an instrumental role in developing the unit and brought several violent criminals to justice while serving in this unit. Chief Cornett was then promoted to the rank of Sergeant and assigned as the supervisor for the Organized Crime and Narcotics Unit.

Chief Cornett also became an active member of the Special Weapons And Tactics team. He also played an active role as a member of the Police Department’s Honor Guard. Chief Cornett later became a supervisor for the Honor Guard and participated in several events such as posting colors, funerals, color guards, etc. Chief Cornett is a certified Hostage / Crisis Negotiator, a certified instructor through the SCCJA, an Active Shooter Response instructor, a D.A.R.E. Instructor, a School Resource Officer, a V.A.L.O.R. instructor, and a Police Training Officer. Chief Cornett has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and Management and has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a focus on Leadership and Management.

Chief Cornett was appointed Chief of Police for the Springdale Police Department in February 2012. During his time as chief the department has been listed as the 18th safest city in South Carolina by SafeWise. The department has also been recognized as agency of the year at the 10th annual DUI recognition ceremony.

Kelly joined CPD in May 1999 after graduating from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. His first assignment was serving as the Residential Officer in the Waverly Street KOBAN.

Kelly received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from South Carolina State University and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville. He has also attended the Southern Police Executive Leadership Program and DEA Drug Commanders Program, and is a member of various community and social organizations, including NAACP, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Eau Claire Promise Zone Harmony, Inc. and other affiliations.

Deputy Chief Kelly spearheaded the Beyond the Badge Community Service Program for newly-sworn officers, Columbia Ceasefire Initiative with law enforcement partners combating gun violence occurring in 29203 neighborhoods, and was recently inducted into the Columbia Housing Authority’s Wall of Fame. Chief Kelly was also part of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Class of South Carolina Black Pages, 20 Under 40 Awards in 2015.

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