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City can order police to turn probe over, AG says

May 7, 2010 11:36:00 AM - thestate.com

The city of Columbia has the right to order Police Chief Tandy Carter to turn over the accident investigation of Mayor-Elect Steve Benjamin to the S.C. Highway Patrol, Attorney General Henry McMaster’s office said in an opinion released Friday morning.

McMaster’s office also said the city also has the right to enact an ordinance requiring future investigations be turned over to the Highway Patrol when they involve elected officials.

“The chief of police serves at the pleasure of the city, which can prescribe his duties,’’ according to the opinion from Senior Assistant Attorney General Charles H. Richardson. “In the opinion of this office, the city of Columbia would be well within its authority to instruct the chief that the referenced accident investigation be turned over to the Highway Patrol and to enact an ordinance that would allow future accident investigations to be turned over to the Highway Patrol when involving an elected official.’’

Carter’s department is investigating the Benjamin accident, but the probe has drawn a chorus of criticism from City Council and others. Council members blasted the chief this week for failing to call in the Highway Patrol.

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)