Robbie Patterson was sworn in as the new undersheriff of Columbia County Monday.

Patterson has worked as a deputy in the Sheriff’s Office for the past two and a half years, said newly elected Sheriff Joe Helm, who appointed Patterson to the second-in-command position. Patterson’s prior experience includes the U.S. Army Special Forces, and he hails from North Carolina.

“Robbie possesses the qualities, attributes and character that make him a great asset to the Sheriff’s Office and citizens of Columbia County,” Helm was quoted in a Sheriff’s Office social media post.

Helm said he plans to set up a full administration, with a sheriff, undersheriff, chief deputy, as well as the patrol division. It’s a bit of a change, he said. Helm was the most recent chief deputy, under former sheriffs Rocky Miller and Walt Hessler.

“We’ve been short-staffed for several years,” Helm said Tuesday morning, adding that the Sheriff’s Office has had no designated undersheriff for two years, but now has the capacity to maintain one.

He also said he’s looking at candidates to fill the chief deputy position and will announce his decision as soon as possible.

Emily Thornton can be reached at or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.