Columbia police chief takes indefinite, paid leave after less than 3 years on job

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COLUMBIA — Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott has taken an indefinite leave of absence after less than three years on the job, city officials announced Tuesday.

Scott requested the leave for personal reasons and will be paid his salary of $112,000 during that time, according to City Manager Teresa Wilson. Scott is using accumulated time off, and it was not clear how much leave he has.

Before his leave, Wilson said she had been considering disciplinary action against him. Wilson told The State she had talked about workplace issues with the chief but would not elaborate.

Scott was Columbia’s sixth chief in seven years. Ruben Santiago, the department’s deputy chief, has been named to take over during his absence.

It’s the second time in less than a year that Santiago has filled that role. In December, Scott resigned to take advantage of changes in the state retirement system and was rehired 15 days later. After he was reinstated as chief, Scott said he intended to be the city’s police chief for a long time.

Scott, who has been praised by some for making changes to the department and forging good relationships in the community, has also faced criticism. A year ago, the department came under scrutiny after a botched search for a missing lobbyist. Scott’s officers searched a Columbia office building three times in 10 days before finding the body of Hospitality Association executive Tom Sponseller, who had committed suicide.

After that bungled search, one of Scott’s top officers was fired. Isa Greene is now suing Scott and the city, saying she was made a scapegoat for the department’s failings and was also paid less than men holding equal rank.

Greene had been with the department for 33 years when she was fired in March 2012.

Scott, the city and the police department have denied Greene’s allegations.


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