3 Chester SC police officers suspended, interim chief named in SLED finance inquiry

3 Chester SC police officers suspended, interim chief named in SLED finance inquiry
SC police: SLED conducting inquiry into finances at Chester Police Department (Source: Rock Hill Herald)

CHESTER, S.C. (Rock Hill Herald) - Three Chester police officers have been suspended and the city has named an interim police chief as South Carolina state police conduct an inquiry into the finances at the Chester Police Department, state and Chester officials said Monday.

The three officers have not been identified by Chester or state officials.

In a statement to The Herald, Chester Mayor Wanda Stringfellow said Chester officer Milton Sims has been appointed interim police chief.

Chester Police Department Chief Eric Williams was hired to run the department in 2017.

However, the statement did not mention anything about the status of Chester Police Chief Eric Williams. The statement also did not say anything about the specifics of the SLED inquiry, or who at the City of Chester asked South Carolina police to do the police department inquiry.

The statement from Stringfellow said in its entirety: “The City of Chester has suspended three of its police officers pending an inquiry with SLED. City officials will not discuss the suspension since it is a personnel matter and is being reviewed by SLED. The City of Chester and the City Police Department remain dedicated to the safety and protection of the citizens of the City of Chester.”

The statement ended with: “Officer Milton Sims has been appointed Interim Chief.”

A person who answered the phone at the Chester Police Department said Sims was not available for comment. An officer on the telephone said Chester City Administrator Stephanie Jackson was handling all public relations calls for the department. Efforts to reach Jackson were unsuccessful.

Tommy Crosby, spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division, said Chester city officials asked SLED to look into the police finances.

“We have a preliminary inquiry open looking at the finances of the department,” Crosby said Monday. “We have been requested to take a look.”

Crosby did not provide any details about the inquiry.

“Depending on the results of the inquiry, that will determine if a full investigation is warranted,” Crosby said.

The Chester Police Department has 27 sworn officers that serve a city of about 5,500 residents, according to the city’s Web site. The City of Chester is the largest community and county seat in Chester County, which is between Rock Hill and Columbia.

Chester Police Department Chief Eric Williams was hired to run the department in 2017.

The Chester Police Department sits inside Chester County, which is under the jurisdiction of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office.

The two departments are independent, although sheriff deputies have law enforcement capabilities inside the city as well, Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey said Monday.

Dorsey said Monday the public inside the city limits should know that his office and deputies continue to work with Chester Police Department officers to ensure public safety.

“The residents of the city of Chester can know that public safety will continue to be handled,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey said he was made aware by city officials of the three suspensions at the city police department, but declined further comment.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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