Originally created 03/09/02

Edgefield's mystery

City of Edgefield residents have a new police chief and a mystery on their hands as to why the previous chief was axed.

Of course, the mayor and city council know why the guillotine was dropped on ex-Chief Lanny "Chuck" Ross Jr., but they aren't talking. They should.

The public has a right to know why the council does what it does, especially when it involves a matter as important as the city's top law enforcement officer.

True, Ross was still in his six-month probationary period, so the council was well within its rights to let him go. But there is no hint of corruption or wrongdoing on Ross' part.

Mayor John Pettigrew Jr. hints there were some administrative problems but he won't say what they were. "His law enforcement on the street seemed fine," Pettigrew cryptically notes, "but there's more to it than that, being chief."

Ross, who came to Edgefield from the Richland County Sheriff's Office in Columbia to replace popular 20-year Chief Mack Ryans, apparently didn't get along with the city's powers-that-be.

They should just say so. Is the city having trouble adjusting to a new chief after Ryans' long tenure? The fact that the council named one of their own - Lt. Ronnie Carter, a 10-year veteran on Edgefield's force - the new chief suggests that Ross, for whatever reason, wasn't a comfortable fit.

The disappointed former chief seems mystified by his dismissal, too. Certainly after making the move to Edgefield Ross is entitled to some kind of explanation as to why he came up short.

The mystery persists. The mayor and council need to loosen up. If they don't provide the public with information, then people engage in speculation - and speculation is almost always reckless and damaging.


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