Santiago Says He Was Not Forced To Resign

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - There is another shake up at the Columbia Police Department with interim chief Ruben Santiago resigning earlier Thursday.

City officials say he resigned at 5PM on Thursday. Santiago tells News 19 that he was not forced to resign, but has been thinking about leaving the department when he was notified that he wasn't a finalist for the permanent chief position.

The letter of resignation from Santiago comes just days before the city manager is set to hire a new chief sometime next week.

Santiago took over after the former police chief Randy Scott took a leave of absence last year and later resigned. He says that he will be taking a job in the private sector.

While Santiago has been chief crime in the city has been at a 7 year low but there has also been a dark cloud over the department.

SLED recently concluded an investigation of what former police captain Dave Navarro called "black ops."

Navarro claimed that Santiago wanted to plant drugs and a gun in the assistant city managers car.

SLED and the solicitor's investigation could not find any evidence that would result in criminal charges.

The new interim police chief is Major Melron Kelly, he'll serve until that permanent police chief is hired.

Kelly has been with the department since 1999.

City Manager Theresa Wilson said she thanked Santiago for his service.

Mayor Benjamin released a statement saying in part:

"I want to thank Ruben Santiago for his service to the city and the people of Columbia and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

The final two candidates will be in town Friday for a round table discussion on public safety with local law enforcement.

Wilson will name a chief sometime next week.


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