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Town of Pine Ridge says they are working to determine future direction of their police department

Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Town of Pine Ridge released a statement in regard to the recent demise of their police department Wednesday afternoon. They did so after saying they had received, “numerous inquiries and requests for interviews or comment,” on the resignation of their only remaining police officers Tuesday night and Wednesday. 

In their statement, the town said that in light of the sensitive and confidential nature of these matters, and in remaining with the policies of the town, there will be no, “open comment or discussion as to any such matter.“ The town had come under intense media and public scrutiny over the previous 16 hours since their fifth and sixth interim or full-time police chiefs resigned citing a hostile and toxic work environment and meddling in the department’s operations by the town’s mayor, Robert Wells. 

After multiple former employees and chiefs have alleged that the mayor had ready access to the police department’s evidence room and went in and out of it at will, they also addressed any possible investigation into these irregularities. In their statement they said that if an investigation into these recent events is deemed necessary, “the town openly welcomes and intends to fully cooperate in any such investigation by the appropriate state agency.” A law enforcement consultant we spoke with said that for SLED to launch an investigation, they would normally require a town official or some other law enforcement agency to request that. To date, no one on council has come forward and said they had taken that action. Only Councilmember Beth Sturkie has openly questioned the actions of the mayor and the Public Safety Committee. 

After Tuesday night’s meeting, a citizen of the town said she witnessed Mayor Robert Wells threaten Sturkie by telling her, “she needs to watch herself.” Wells then alleged that Sturkie, the only female member of the council, had threatened him. The citizen who witnessed the exchange said that Wells told Sturkie she would be considered guilty if anything happened to him. “He also told Beth that SLED was investigating her because of some threats against Wells that he found on a town phone that had been used by one of the many former police chiefs.” We have asked a spokesman for SLED if any such investigation into Sturkie has been launched and are waiting for their reply. Sturkie denies ever threatening to physically harm Mayor Wells and to date, she hasn’t been contacted by anyone with SLED or any other law enforcement agency regarding these allegations.

It remains to be seen exactly what will become of the Pine Ridge Police Department, its equipment, and fleet. In closing their statement, a town leader said that Pine Ridge remains dedicated to the safety and security of its residents and in that light is diligently working to determine the most appropriate direction for the future of the Town of Pine Ridge Police Department.  





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