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The City of Columbia, S.C.’s less-than-competent police chief – who recently “retired” for fifteen days and was then rehired as part of an effort to milk every last cent out of the state’s pension fund – is once again off the job.

Except this time the reason isn’t immediately clear …

Randy Scott – who was handpicked as police chief by Columbia, S.C. mayor Steve Benjamin two-and-a-half years ago – has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his position. Meanwhile Scott’s top lieutenant – Ruben Santiago – has been tapped as the city’s interim chief.

No reason was given for Scott’s decision, and according to a reporter at The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper the news appears to have taken the city’s leaders by surprise.

“This announcement appears to have caught city council off guard,” reporter Noelle Phillips wrote on her Facebook page. “The mayor’s spokesman said he is on vacation and won’t discuss because it’s a personnel issue.”

Hmmmm …

Scott vowed to be “the community’s chief,” but his tenure has been a disaster. Not only did his department screw the pooch on a high-profile disappearance-turned-suicide, but one of the city’s major downtown retail centers has become home to all sorts of bloody lawlessness.

Calls and text messages to Scott’s cell phone were not immediately returned.

The city’s last police chief, Tandy Carter, was fired in May 2010 after he objected to the city’s interference into an investigation involving then mayor-elect Benjamin’s controversial car crash – which left a Columbia, S.C. hotel worker with permanent physical damage (she has since died of cancer). Specifically, Carter said that the investigation into Benjamin’s crash was being run by City Hall, and that he refused to be a “puppet police chief.”

Benjamin, incidentally, is one of several elected officials accused of being involved in an illegal video poker ring run out of neighboring Lexington County. In fact Benjamin’s name – and the name of one of his political advisors – are mentioned on an audio recording starring Lexington Town Council member Danny Frazier, who is reportedly a central figure in the so-called “Lexington Ring.”

UPDATE: FITS has spoken with several sources claiming to have insight into the reason for Scott’s abrupt announcement. Stay tuned …

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