Columbia Police Chief Search Controversial?
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — ABC Columbia gets to the bottom of allegations regarding the search for Columbia’s next police chief, on the eve of the interview process. Allegations surrounding the search for Columbia’s next police chief include a back door meeting where it was allegedly revealed one of the five candidates had supposedly already been chosen, even before the interview process begins. Responding to an anonymous email, Columbia city councilman Cameron Runyan now questions the vetting process for the Capitol City’s next police chief. “I have been unable to get a straight answer as to whether or not there was pre-selection in the process,” said Runyan from his Park Street home. “What has been recounted to council is that he said the current chief was excluded from the process and the the ultimate finalist had already been decided.” The ‘he’ Runyan refers to is police chief search committee chair, Richard Bolchoz. In the email, obtained by ABC Columbia News, Bolchoz is accused of saying one of the five candidates for chief was picked and that the interview process, set to officially begin Tuesday, was “all for show.” The incident supposedly occurred earlier this month at a Restaurant and Bar, over dinner and drinks, according to the email Runyan received. We went to Boclhoz’s office to get a response to the allegations. He would not comment specifically on the incident at the restaurant. However, he did say narrowing candidates to 25, then 12 to the current five was an “air tight process” and to allege there was any kind of manipulation on his part also implicates the four other search committee members. “The theory that I or anyone could manipulate the process or determine who the next chief is on their own is completely unfounded,” said Bolchoz. “No chief has been hired.” When asked if one had been selected, he answered, “absolutely not.” Such accusations come the same time a social media campaign has been launched in support of keeping acting chief Ruben Santiago, not in the running for the permanent position, as chief. Columbia city council’s regular meeting takes place tomorrow at 6:00pm at City Hall. The police chief search will be a major agenda item for discussion among council members. City leaders will also host a police chief search public forum this week at City Hall. It will take place this Wednesday, February 19th, from 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. During the forum, candidates will respond to questions that have been submitted by citizens.