Small South Carolina town loses entire police force

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Courtesy: Pine Ridge PD

PINE RIDGE, S.C. (AP) — A small South Carolina town is without a police force after its fourth chief in three years stepped down more than a month ago.

Pine Ridge in Lexington County has also lost five police officers during that same time span, leaving no one to patrol the town of 2,000 people.

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, obtained by The (Columbia) State.

“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 said as a town official he does have opinions on how the police department should be run. He suspended Pine Ridge’s police dog program, saying it wasn’t needed in the small town and was only used by other agencies.

Wells also wanted an officer to patrol school zones in the town for safety.

“If that’s mismanagement or micromanagement or whatever you call it, then that’s micromanagement,” Wells said.

Wells and Pine Ridge Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Davis are the only members of a Town Council committee that oversees the police department and a vote by council earlier this month to remove Wells from the committee failed 3-2.

Lexington County deputies are helping patrol Pine Ridge for now. They often provide support since the police department is so small even when fully staffed.

But town residents pay for a police department and said at a recent meeting they worry deputies can’t 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.

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