The town of Pine Ridge, located in Lexington County, South Carolina, has lost its fourth police chief in three years. All five of the officers that were employed have also left.
The town of 2,000 people is now without anyone to call for assistance.
Interim Police Chief Vincent Silano was Pine Ridge’s only full-time officer before he resigned on Oct. 13, telling Mayor Robert Wells and the Town Council that the mayor constantly meddles in police matters and micromanages the department, according to Silano’s resignation letter.
“It has created a hostile work environment for not only myself but my two part time officers as well and it will not be tolerated,” Silano wrote. “Since it does not seem that anything can be done regardless of the knowledge of wrongdoing, I have no choice but to resign from my position.”
Wells says that as an official, he should be allowed to have opinions as to how the police force functions. He suspended Pine Ridge’s police dog program, saying it wasn’t needed in the small town and was only used by other agencies.
“If that’s mismanagement or micromanagement or whatever you call it, then that’s micromanagement,” Wells said.
Lexington County deputies are helping patrol Pine Ridge for now. This is an arraignment that the town has with Sheriffs department even prior to the current staffing woes due to the department being so small.
But town residents pay for a police department and voiced their concerns at a recent town meeting. Many were concerned that the neighboring deputies wont be able to respond as fast.
Cheryl Patrick said Silano was determined to find a prowler several people reported in a neighborhood. She said she doesn’t know what happened to the case since Silano left the force.
“Barney Fife would be better than nobody,” she said at the Nov. 10 meeting.
“They’re used to getting a quick response from somebody who will come in and talk to you personally,” Judy Cooper, a Pine Ridge resident. “I still don’t feel comfortable going to the store at night, and I used to.”
Two hundred people have signed a petition led by Cooper calling for Wells’ resignation.
A job posting for the for the job of police chief as well as the officers needed to staff the department was posted on October 2nd of this year. The post states, “The Town of Pine Ridge is currently accepting applications for the position of Police Chief. The department has two full-time sworn positions and two part-time sworn positions. Pine Ridge is located in the County of Lexington, S.C., with a population of 2,064 at the 2010 census and a Council form of government. The Police Chief reports to the Police Commissioner.”