City manager steps in on chief's staffing at SC Pride Parade

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Two senior Columbia police officers assigned to represent the department in the South Carolina Pride Parade objected saying it violated their religious beliefs and sent their concerns to the city manager's office, city officials said.

The officers were told they weren't required to attend the parade after the city manager's office got involved, officials said.  

The officers sent an email to Interim Chief Ruben Santiago and copied the city manager's office, Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson said.

"He copied us on those emails, where he was saying that he didn't want to do that or whatever, and at that point I asked the chief to advise me of the situation," Wilson said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

Wilson said the officers were not required to attend because they had enough volunteers and the order was changed.

"It had been an ongoing discussion throughout the week that had been brought to our attention," Wilson said. "We were just ensuring we had full coverage that morning. Ultimately, management, I and the senior management are responsible for just making sure that things our citizens asked for are carried out."

Santiago said the chain of command procedures were ignored.

"It's not routine, we have a chain of command, and if there are problems with decisions that are made we do have procedures in place for that," Santiago said in a phone interview. "I'm the interim chief. I'm the interim chief; I dictate day to day functions of the police department and make sure our strategies, when it comes to crime, are successful as they are now."

Santiago said the officers would likely not be reprimanded for not following protocol. He said he would use the incident as an opportunity for a lesson in proper etiquette.

WIS has submitted an open records request for copies of the emails from the officers.

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