COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago stepped down from his position at the Columbia Police Department Thursday.
"Ruben Santiago turned in his resignation as Interim Police Chief today, within the last hour. I have accepted his resignation and relieved him of the duties of Police Chief of Columbia effective 5:00 p.m. on today, March 13, 2014," according to an email sent by City Manager Teresa Wilson to city employees and obtained by WIS.
Major Melron Kelly has been appointed as acting chief of the Columbia Police Department effective immediately and until the effective appointment date of the permanent Police Chief, Wilson's email goes on to say.
"Acting Chief Kelly will lead the daily operations for the Columbia Police Department and will work with the department's command staff and police officers to handle all public safety duties," Wilson said in a statement.
Mayor Steve Benjamin also released a statement after the news broke.
"I want to thank Ruben Santiago for his service to the city and the people of Columbia and we wish him well in his future endeavors," Benjamin said. "I am certain Interim Chief Kelly will do an outstanding job. He has my full confidence and support and I am certain he will make us proud."
The resignation comes as the City of Columbia prepares to name a new police chief to finally replace former Chief Randy Scott.
Santiago began his tenure as the interim chief after Scott took an "indefinite" leave of absence from the position in April 2013.
A month later, Scott resigned as the top cop, citing continuing issues with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Santiago, the then-Deputy Chief of Operations was named the interim chief once again while Columbia City Council began the process of finding a new chief.
Soon after he began, allegations arose from within the department that Santiago had concocted an operation to have drugs and a stolen gun planted inside a city official's car.
The so-called "black ops" plan would have, according to accuser and former police Capt. Dave Navarro, would have initiated a promotion plan installing Santiago as the permanent chief.
Despite that, Santiago's name was floated as a potential permanent replacement to Scott. However, he was not among the list of final five candidates.
We're told Santiago will work in the private sector.
STATEMENT FROM CITY MANAGER TERESA WILSON
Today, I received a resignation notice from former Interim Chief Ruben Santiago. Mr. Santiago has stepped down from his position as Interim Chief for the Columbia Police Department. We thank him for his service.
Effective immediately, Major Melron Kelly will serve as Acting Chief for the Columbia Police Department. Acting Chief Kelly will lead the daily operations for the Columbia Police Department and will work with the department's command staff and police officers to handle all public safety duties. Acting Chief Kelly will serve in this role until the effective appointment date of Columbia's new Police Chief.
I have made this comment several times before, but I cannot thank the men and women of the Columbia Police Department enough for their dedication and commitment to the department, our citizens and to the City of Columbia.
As we approach the culmination of a very intensive search process for a new Police Chief, I also want to thank the citizens of our great city for their input, participation and support of this endeavor. Please know that I consider the selection of our new Police Chief as one of the most important decisions that I will make in my role as City Manager. In closing, I also would like to thank City Council for their vote of confidence in both me and the Police Chief search process.
City Manager Teresa Wilson