Melron Kelly Named Acting Columbia Police Chief

Kelly's appointment comes as interim chief Santiago resigns

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By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- Late Thursday afternoon, Columbia City Manager, Teresa Wilson, accpeted the resignation of now-former Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago, who has served int he position for a year and a half. Major Melron Kelly has been named Acting Chief.

This new development comes in the middle of a contentious battle over who will lead the Department. City council members voted Wednesday at a special called meeting to drop the request of councilman Cameron Runyan that Wilson suspend her nationwide search for a new police chief and, instead, enter into a contract with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott to lead the Columbia Police Department. Then, one of the finalists for the chief's position removed himself from the running, citing the ongoing drama as a contributing factor. Wilson has said she will make a final decision on a new hire by early next week.

In a statement, Wilson said, in part:

"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."

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