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BARNWELL, S.C. () — The Barnwell City Police Department is looking for a new Chief after the current one decided to resign.
“I’ve prayed to God. I asked him to lead and direct me. It is now to the point where I decided to follow the leads that I have been directed and move on.” Barnwell Police Department Chief Lamaz Robinson said.
Barnwell Police Department Chief Lamaz Robinson discussed the department’s notable achievements during his tenure, including substantial improvements in various aspects of their operations. “When I came here, officer turnover rate was pretty high. Not only that, but our crime rate has reduced. We were down over a two-year period from when I took over prior to my predecessor. We’re down 194 calls,” he said.
The Chief added that the police department has made significant improvements recently. They’ve addressed issues such as a depleted vehicle fleet, issuing patrol rifles to officers, and enhancing overall operational efficiency. In addition, they’ve initiated a pilot program involving in-vehicle computers to reduce roadside processing time during traffic stops from 20 minutes to just five or six minutes.
Despite that, in a one-page resignation letter to the city, Chief Robinson talks about a hostile work environment involving credit card use, on-call pay, and interference from city council members in police investigations. “No other council member has done any point to where they showed up at crime scene or investigations or tried to do their own work or calling victims and trying to talk to them and trying to find out information. I’ve only had one council member who done that,” he said.
An email sent out on June 8, 2023, led him to file a federal discrimination complaint against the city. ‘In that email,’ he said, ‘he refers to “employee, employee, employee” throughout the entire email. Then he gets to the end; he says, “If he or she,” well, he knew in the email that he was referring to was in reference to me,’ he recalled.
Robert Miller, a nearly 45-year vet of the department, will take over as interim chief. “When someone asks you to come and help them, it’s like a neighbor knocking on your door in the middle of the night and saying, ‘Could you help me? My car broke down,’ would you could say no? So they asked me. I didn’t ask them. They asked me. And so I said yes, I would do it.” Interim Police Chief Robert Miller said.
Miller will start at the end of September. “Although I announced in my letter that my last day would be November 30. City Council made a decision at the special call meeting earlier this week to change that date to September 26,” Chief Robinson added.
For now, Miller won’t seek the position permanently. It’s unclear when a replacement will be hired. “The city ain’t got nothing to worry about. We going to make sure we take care of all of that. And that’s basically what I’m here to do. And just trying to keep the City of Barnwell a beautiful town,” he shared.
Meanwhile, NewsChannel 6 received a copy of Councilman Ron Still response to Robinson’s letter.