Entire Police Department Resigns In South Carolina Town
The entire police force of a small South Carolina town resigned “due to the constant impediment of police matters” by the town’s mayor.
Pine Ridge, a 2,000-person town outside Columbia, typically has a police department of three full-time officers and a number of part-time officials. According to the State, that hasn’t been the case since Oct. 13, when interim Police Chief Lt. Vincent Silano resigned after only five months. Silano is the fourth chief in the past three years.
Five other officers have left since in the same period of time.
In a letter sent to Mayor Robert Wells and the town council, Silano said his departure was “solely due to the constant impediment of police matters and micro-managing at the hands of Mayor Robert Wells.”
“It has created a hostile work environment for not only myself but my two part time officers as well and it will not be tolerated,” Silano wrote. “Since it does not seem that anything can be done regardless of the knowledge of wrongdoing, I have no choice but to resign from my position.”
A key issue was the mayor’s decision to suspend the town’s K-9 unit. Wells said that the program wasn’t necessary for a town like Pine Ridge.
“In town, the number of calls for a canine were zero,” Mills said. “Everything was mutual aid calls to other municipalities.”
Officers were reportedly upset regarding Wells’s requirements for a “strict patrol schedule set up by the mayor” and his “insistence that an officer police the school zones around Pine Ridge Middle School and Herbert A. Wood Elementary School at set times.”
Additionally, former chiefs complained that the mayor and others have driven unmarked patrol cars around town.
Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Davis, who works with Wells on a two-person body that oversees the department, said former law enforcement officers never told them that “the mayor told them they couldn’t enforce a code, told them they couldn’t write a ticket, told them they couldn’t investigate a crime.”
“Micromanaging is a management style,” Davis said. “It’s not my style, but it is a style.”
Given the high turnover and lack of an active force, members of the town council and the community have expressed concerns that the department’s “ability to hire the best candidates going forward” has been impaired, putting the community at risk.
“Even if the applicants we get are qualified, it’s hard not to think they’re not already concerned about what they will face when they get here,” councilwoman Beth Spires Sturkie said.
Judy Cooper, a resident who collected 200 signatures demanding that Wells resign, said that she no longer feels safe going to the store at night.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Pine Ridge local government and Silano for further comment.
Author: Tyler Van Dyke
Source: Washington Examiner: Entire police department resigns in South Carolina town