City suspends search for new police chief until SLED investigation is done

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The City of Columbia has suspended its search for a police chief.

City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said city officials are awaiting the outcome of a State Law Enforcement Division investigation before a hiring decision is made.

"We are waiting to hear from SLED on the outcome of the investigation, " said Devine. "We are ready to proceed as soon as that is completed, which we expect soon."

The SLED investigation involved interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago, who is a candidate for the open chief position.

Santiago has been accused by a former officer of being involved in a conspiracy to plant evidence.

The FBI also is investigating the accusations made by former Capt. Dave Navarro, who claims Santiago asked him to use his authority to access drugs and a gun from the department's evidence lockup and plant them in the vehicle of a city official.

After Navarro went public, Santiago accused Navarro of shredding documents and asked SLED to investigate "possible missing or misappropriation of funds from the Columbia Police Foundation."

After Mayor Steve Benjamin sent a letter to SLED Chief Mark Keel requesting an investigation, SLED agreed to open a case.

Columbia has been without a police chief since Randy Scott resigned in April.

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