Neeley says mayor and council should, “Be ashamed of themselves,” in resignation letter
Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) – Former Pine Ridge Interim Police Chief Frankie Neeley unloaded on the mayor and council of the Town of Pine Ridge in his recent letter of resignation. That letter dated October 14, 2020 says that his resignation would take effect at midnight on Wednesday night.
In his letter, former Chief Neeley says that his decision to resign was not an easy one to make. He grew up in Pine Ridge, has worked there with the police department for years, and according to his letter, “made new friends and rekindled old friendships from years gone by.” Neeley, a former active-duty US Marine, is a full-time member of the SC National Guard but often used patrolling Pine Ridge as a way to keep his police officer skills proficient. It also allowed him to do something he loved when he was not working for the guard.
Neeley has been Pine Ridge’s go to guy over the past three tumultuous years since Robert Wells was elected mayor. Whenever the town’s police department found itself without a police chief, he would graciously step up and accept the job of interim chief until a new chief was found. He would then step back and return to his former status patrolling the town in a part-time capacity. However, when Interim Police Chief Vincent Silano resigned at the town's council meeting Tuesday night and it was hinted that Neeley would once again be offered the interim job, he showed he had reached his breaking point with the revolving door at the police department. That's when he announced that he too was resigning.
Neeley said in his letter that he could no longer work at Pine Ridge because the police chief and officer did not have the support of the town’s council. He goes on to say that over the past three years, the period since Robert Wells was elected mayor and appointed himself police commissioner, they have had, “mass turnover.” He also points out that even though the mayor / police commissioner is not a sworn officer or the law, he has used his office to mandate and control police functions that are, “not in the best interest of the citizens of Pine Ridge.”
In his letter, Chief Neeley goes on to say that he does not lay all the blame for the problems with the police department at the feet of the mayor. “The town council has done nothing to question the decision-making process of the Public Safety Committee and the citizens of Pine Ridge are victimized by these decisions.” He continued by calling the Pine Ridge Police Department, “the most toxic and micro-managed department that I have ever worked for.” Neeley wrote that he expected that the department would continue in this way until council members are either voted out of office or, “find the intestinal fortitude to take a stand and ask questions as to why our officers are leaving at such a high rate." Pine Ridge is a strong council form of government and each elected member of the council has an equal vote. Except for a few procedural processes, the mayor has absolutely no more power than any other member of the town’s governing body.
Chief Neeley continued in his letter saying that, “there is no reason for a town as small as Pine Ridge [sic] should have a police commissioner or a public safety committee.” He then emphatically said, “The mayor and council should be ashamed of themselves!”
In closing, Neeley said he would like to acknowledge Councilwoman Sturkie for her support of the officers of Pine Ridge both past and present. “She appears to be the only member of council that has the best interest of the police department and the citizens of Pine Ridge in mind,” Neeley concluded.
See the full text of the chief’s resignation here: