Santiago Speaks Out on Chief Scott's Departure

Acting Chief says Scott's leave of absence is 'personal'


By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- After the city of Columbia's bombshell announcement yesterday that police chief Randy Scott is taking yet another leave of absence, city officials are tight lipped today. However, acting Chief Ruben Santiago is talking.

"When you look at that situation, it's a personal matter."

That was the acting Columbia Police Chief, Ruben Santiago, addressing rumors and innuendo surrounding Chief Randy Scott's sudden, paid leave of absence.

"A personal leave of absence, we grant those to officers all the time. We're only human, so if anyone needs special attention in their personal lives, we try to accommodate that. that's all this really is."

When ABC Columbia asked about the specifics of that absence request, this is what City leaders told us.

"The statement he requested to his supervisor, that was the request made; we cannot release it," said City Public Relations Director, Leshia Utsey.

"Chief Scott is an employee like any of the other 2,300 we have. I know he is Chief of Police. There was no reason not to grant his request to honor his privacy," said City Manager Teresa Wilson.

Acting Chief Ruben Santiago has been thrust in this substitute role for the second time in three months. Scott resigned from the Department in December for two weeks to take advantage of a retirement system loophole.

Santiago stepped in.

But, prior to that, Scott had been flanked with a botched,
high-profile missing persons-case-turned-suicide, a lawsuit by an employee that was fired, and according to a source close to the situation, tension between he and newly appointed City Manager Teresa Wilson.

None of it, though, claims Santiago, has to do with CPD's responsibility to keep citizens safe in the here and now.

"Our function at the Columbia Police Department is to make sure we don't skip a beat."

Sources close to the situation tell ABC Columbia News Chief Scott is currently at an undisclosed location out of town. Acting Chief Santiago says is prepared to fulfill his duties in his new role until he is told otherwise.

Scott will continue to receive his $112 thousand a year salary say officials. City manager Teresa Wilson says his return will be granted upon his request and that she has no reason to believe he will not be back as chief of police.

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