Marion mayor: City was not made aware of allegations against former police chief until last week

News13 Investigates

MARION, S.C. (WBTW) — Marion Mayor Ashley Brady told News13 Tuesday that the city was not made aware of any allegations against former Police Chief Keith Parks until last week.

Documents obtained by News13 show the Pine Ridge Police Department didn’t report the allegations against Parks to the SC Criminal Justice Academy until Oct. 30, and Brady said the city found out two weeks later.

The documents show Parks had a separation due to misconduct while with the Pine Ridge Police Department in April for misrepresenting employment-related information when he said he was never under any investigation at a previous department, which was not true.

CBS affiliate WLTX in Columbia reports that several officers have resigned from the Pine Ridge PD over the last several years, including three in October, one of which was the interim police chief. WLTX reports that all three officers resigned citing the mayor’s involvement with the department.

Brady said the city did the proper background check and it came up with nothing. He said Parks got a “clean bill of health” from both the previous agency Parks worked for and the academy.

The documents also show Parks was fired from the Lexington Police Department in 2011 as a result of an internal investigation.

When News13 asked Brady why the city didn’t know about Parks’ firing from the Lexington PD nine years ago, he said the academy didn’t raise any red flags during a phone call. News13 requested the documents — which include his firing from Lexington PD — from the academy Tuesday at 12:29 p.m. via email and received the report at 1:48 p.m., one hour and 19 minutes later.

Jackie Swindler, director of the SC Criminal Justice Academy said agencies are not required to request the actual documents from the academy. They can simply call the academy and ask questions. Swindler said sometimes agencies just don’t ask the right questions.

For example, an agency can ask if an applicant has a misconduct charge, but even if the applicant doesn’t have a misconduct charge, they could still have a pending investigation or have been fired from another agency.

He also said a long delay in reporting an officer’s wrongdoing to the academy is possible when an outside agency, such as SLED or the FBI, is investigating the officer. Once the findings from an outside agency are reported to the agency that requested the investigation, then the findings are reported to the academy.

Parks resigned from the Marion Police Department Tuesday about a month after being sworn in.


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