PAGELAND, S.C. — Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks will step in as Pageland interim police chief until personnel issues fixed.
The town held an emergency meeting Wednesday before the announcement was made.
Hours after Pageland Police Chief Larry Brown was allowed back to work Tuesday following a criminal investigation, nearly his entire force quit.
Nine of the 11 officers that took an oath to protect and serve Pageland walked out when Brown was told he could go back to work after a unanimous vote by Pageland Town Council on Tuesday night.
Brooks does not know how many officers will report for duty. Brooks will meet with Brown and the town administrator Monday.
Brown went on administrative paid leave in November when the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division opened a criminal investigation, though the allegations against the chief have not been revealed publicly.
SLED told Channel 9 on Tuesday that the investigation is still open. However the agencies report has been turned over to solicitor Will Rogers, Channel 9 has learned.
On Wednesday, the Pageland Police Department was open, but there was only a dispatcher working inside, and no one outside. Patrol cars sat parked and city officers were not patrolling the streets of town.
Residents like Nancy Strawn were concerned that issues must be very deep in the troubled department.
"I’m hoping that when everything comes out it's the truth instead of just rumors," Strawn said.
It was rumors Channel 9 heard weeks ago that if the chief was brought back, officers would walk out. They did immediately after the council reinstated him.
Town Administrator Cecil Kimrey first told Channel 9 “no comment” about the police issue, but the mayor later released a statement to reporters.
The statement: "The town of Pageland wishes to assure citizens of the town of Pageland that steps have and are being taken to insure that an appropriate law enforcement presence is maintained while these employment and personnel issues are addressed."
"I’ve never seen a police department just walk out," said Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks.
Brooks has agreed to put extra deputies on patrol, about three per shift, to cover the Pageland area until the police issue is resolved.
He told Channel 9 it will be a challenge, but his office can handle it.
"We are going to continue that as long as it takes. If it takes a week, if it takes a month, if it takes a year," Brooks said.
After Brown was reinstated Tuesday, his supporters cheered. Most thought the ordeal was over, including, long-time friend Harold Burnell.
"After the decision came down everybody shook hands with the council and we thought we left as one happy family," he said. "This morning, I was shocked."
No one who's directly involved will comment on the specifics of why the officers quit Wednesday. Brown also did not return calls for comment.
Brooks said he hopes this won't last very long, once things cool down.
"Hopefully they were working off a little emotion last night, and maybe some of them will reconsider," he said.
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