COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Columbia will wait for two state investigations to finish before continuing with its search for a new police chief.

Councilwoman Leona Plaugh said it will be hard to get the best candidates to apply until the State Law Enforcement Division’s investigations into corruption and the handling of a petty cash account are complete.

“Until we get some clarity, it’s going to be hard to attract competent, first-class external candidates. And it’s not fair to our internal candidates. It’s not a good position, really, to be in,” Plaugh told The State of Columbia.

Plaugh says city council decided to wait after meeting last week. They will have input into who gets the police chief job, but City Manager Teresa Wilson will make the final decision.

Interim Chief Ruben Santiago will continue to run the department. He stepped into the job in April, when Randy Scott resigned after less than three years on the job. Columbia has had six police chiefs in seven years.

One of the SLED investigations is into Santiago’s conduct, prompted from allegations of corruption from a fired captain. Santiago has denied any wrongdoing.

City officials promise a national search for a new police chief that will be as open as possible and will include community involvement as soon as the SLED investigations are finished, said Pam Benjamin, Columbia’s personnel director.


Information from: The State,