Grassroots group wants Santiago installed as permanent chief - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Grassroots group wants Santiago installed as permanent chief

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The list of candidates is set for Columbia's next police chief, but not everyone is happy with the nominees. In fact, some people say, there's only one person for the job and he's already in town.

"I was born and raised here, and it's an atrocity to see what's happening now," said Jim Crawford, who works with the Columbia Police Department.

At a meeting Monday night at Speakeasy in Five Points, community members discussed the chief search.

"I think the man for the job has been left off the list of the final candidates," said David Kunz.

Kunz is talking about Interim Chief Ruben Santiago. Santiago is not a finalist for the position.

City Manager Teresa Wilson formed a committee to narrow down applicants for Columbia's top cop. Five nominees were announced late last week.

Wilson and her committee are satisfied with their finalists, but not everyone agrees.

For the nearly two dozen people gathered at Speakeasy, the solution, is easy.

"He's been good enough to be the interim chief twice. He was good enough to be offered the assistant chief job," said Crawford. "So why is he not good enough to be in the top five when clearly he is more qualified than some of the people in that top five?"

The group wants the search for chief to stop and Santiago appointed chief. They credit a reduction in the city's crime rates and proactive fiscal responsibility as two reasons Santiago should be chief.

 "I couldn't see any reason for us wanting to go outside of our community and find someone else," said Stephanie Bell.

When asked for comment from Santiago, CPD spokesperson Jennifer Timmons said Santiago was not part of the meeting or its organization. Timmons also said Santiago is appreciative of the support.

Santiago supporters plan to be at Tuesday's council meeting to hand over a letter asking for Santiago to be named chief

Wilson, meanwhile, stands behind the committee's list of candidates and is moving forward with the process as planned.

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