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Richland County Sheriff recognized as Honorary Defense Force Commander

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, Defense Force Commander for the 169th Security Forces Squadron, explains the importance of the "honorary commander" program. Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, Defense Force Commander for the 169th Security Forces Squadron, explains the importance of the "honorary commander" program. Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, Defense Force Commander for the 169th Security Forces Squadron, presents Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, with the title of "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, Defense Force Commander for the 169th Security Forces Squadron, presents Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, with the title of "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, the Defense Force Commander for the 169th Security Forces Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Kenvyn Lewis, combat arms trainer for the 169th SFS, give Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, a tour of the unit's armory and weapons arsenal. Sheriff Lott received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, the Defense Force Commander for the 169th Security Forces Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Kenvyn Lewis, combat arms trainer for the 169th SFS, give Sheriff Leon Lott, from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, a tour of the unit's armory and weapons arsenal. Sheriff Lott received the title as "Honorary Defense Force Commander" for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 1, 2014. This honor recognized Sheriff Lott as a community leader and supporter of the South Carolina Air National Guard to strengthen community relationships and share in team building training and experience. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott was recognized by the 169th Security Forces Squadron as Honorary Defense Force Commander, Nov. 1.

This is the first time anyone has been recognized as an Honorary Defense Force Commander by the South Carolina Air National Guard; Lott was chosen due to his support of the National Guard and his leadership in the community.

Brig. Gen. Thad Meyers, the Assistant Adjutant General for Air in the South Carolina Air National Guard, spoke of Lott's accomplishments in civilian law enforcement and his work in the State Guard, where he serves as a colonel. 

"He is the real deal, no question about it," Meyers said. "We are honored to have Sheriff Lott on our team."

During the ceremony, Lott was given a shadow box containing a Security Forces beret, handcuffs and Security Forces badge by Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, 169th Security Forces commander.

"There's no job you do that's unimportant. You are that line between good and evil," Lott told the Security Forces Squadron. "You put your life on the line for the state and community and we honor you."

The tie between the Richland County Sheriff's Office and the South Carolina National Guard has been close. The Sheriff's Department employs one current and four former deputies that also serve in the 169th Security Forces Squadron. In June 2012, 1st Lt. Ryan Rawl, a deputy and member of the South Carolina Army National Guard, was killed in action while serving in Khost Province in Afghanistan.

Laymon said having Lott serve as an honorary commander is important for the two organizations to continue working closely together during domestic operations after natural disasters and is an opportunity to increase recruitment in the South Carolina Air National Guard.

"This creates a seamless relationship with our civilian counterparts to more effectively support our communities," Laymon said.