Benjamin will push for firings, prosecutions if wrongdoing found - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Benjamin will push for firings, prosecutions if wrongdoing found at CPD

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  • Read Benjamin's full statement

    Read Benjamin's full statement

    Mayor Benjamin makes statement on Public Safety COLUMBIA, SC - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin made the following statement today regarding issues surrounding the Columbia Police Department: As you know,More >>
    Mayor Benjamin makes statement on Public Safety COLUMBIA, SC - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin made the following statement today regarding issues surrounding the Columbia Police Department: As you know,More >>
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

In his first statement since allegations against the Columbia Police Department forced a SLED and FBI investigation, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says he will push for firings and prosecutions if investigators find any evidence of wrongdoing within the department.

In the 708-word statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Benjamin says SLED must be allowed to complete its investigation without any political interference.

"Our state's law enforcement officers are very capable of conducting a thorough investigation," said Benjamin. "I am confident that they will perform their duties objectively and comprehensively and provide us with a full report to act upon."

Benjamin also touched upon the recent arrest of South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph's following an incident in Five Points.

According to a police report, City Manager Teresa Wilson personally responded to the scene. We're told that was because she happened to hear about the disturbance and knows Randolph. City officials say there was no special treatment of Randolph because of his position.

However, in his statement, Benjamin says this should not have happened.

"Dr. Randolph's arrest demonstrated why we should not have administrators or elected officials showing up at crime scenes unless specifically requested by law enforcement. However well intentioned, it can send the wrong message and can create an appearance of impropriety and it needs to stop now," said Benjamin.

Benjamin says he's also pushing to move the search for a new police chief forward, saying it was "time to bring stability to CPD's leadership."

Benjamin goes on to say he believes Columbia's form of government hamstrings the mayor from taking appropriate actions in cases like these.

"But it's important to understand that I have very little administrative authority under our current form of government," said Benjamin. "Here in Columbia, the Mayor does not supervise city staff, the City Manager or the Police Chief. And when we are faced with challenges like these which require swift and decisive action, all I have is one of seven votes on City Council and the long slow process that goes with it. That is the simple fact of our system, a fact that we need to change."

Benjamin has previously pushed to change the city's government to a strong-mayor system, but a vote for that failed in City Council in 2012.

The mayor signs off his statement with a final pledge to continue looking for ways to make the city safer.

"That is my priority, it is the people's priority and nothing is more important," said Benjamin.

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