Randy Scott takes leave from Columbia Police Department

Published: Apr. 2, 2013 at 7:26 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM EDT
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Randy Scott
Randy Scott
Ruben Santiago (Source: Columbia Police Department)
Ruben Santiago (Source: Columbia Police Department)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott has left the department. 

City Manager Teresa Wilson said Scott requested to go on extended leave, citing personal reasons. Further reason for the indefinite leave was not released.

"As with human beings, things come up in anyone's life -- their issues and personal responsibilities and things that people have to deal with," said Wilson.

Scott did not elaborate on his issues when submitting his request for a leave of absence, Wilson said.

"I don't make any decision before I think it through very clearly and thoughtfully about how our citizens are impacted and affected and how our department and continues on, and I have no reason to believe that's exactly what will happen," said Wilson.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin is on vacation and was unavailable for comment, according to his spokesperson.

Deputy Chief of Operations Ruben Santiago will take over leadership of the department in Scott's absence.

Santiago was also in charge of the department in January when Scott retired because of changes to the South Carolina Police Retirement System that would have limited his financial earnings.

"Our police department is a premier agency and our citizens have come to expect and deserve the highest caliber of service so nothing will change," said Wilson. "All of that is in place."

Scott was one of two applicants for the job and was rehired shortly after his departure. He returned to work on January 16.

Scott had been at the helm of the police department since October of 2010. He was named interim chief when then acting Chief Carl Burke retired. Three months later, he was sworn in as the permanent chief.

The former Marine and veteran of the Richland County Sheriff's Department rose through the sheriff's department ranks to become chief deputy in early 2010. He took what was essentially the number two leadership position after former Chief Deputy Dan Johnson ran a successful campaign to become Fifth Circuit Solicitor.

He was named Columbia's "City Officer of the Year" in 2012. "Chief Scott has built a first-class law enforcement agency for the people of this city," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin during the annual Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement luncheon. "Under his leadership, the Columbia Police Department is smarter, stronger, friendlier and more effective than ever before. This award underlines that fact and I couldn't be more proud."

He is the 2010 recipient of the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award. He has also been recognized as the commander of South Carolina's Crime Prevention Program of the Year in 2003 and was named the South Carolina Deputy of the Year in 2000.

Scott's tenure as chief has not been without controversy. In February, former Police Chief of Administration Isa Greene filed a lawsuit against the city, the police department and Chief Scott nearly a year after Scott fired Greene in connection to the botched Tom Sponseller search.

Her suit, in part, claims Scott "over-rode Greene's rejection of a female employee who lacked qualifications because he was having a relationship with the female employee, and as a related result, a qualified employee was not hired."

She also claims Scott hired three officers within days of her firing—officers that she'd sent rejection letters to just days before. When questioned about why the department would hire an unqualified candidate, Greene answered, "Because Chief Scott wanted them hired."

It is unclear if or when Scott will return. He was earning $112,000 per year.

"I have every reason to believe that Chief Scott will return to his normal responsibilities as police chief," said Wilson.

He has eight children, five girls, and three boys.

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