Police Chief Theatens Citizen with Arrest for Facebook ComplaintS

Columbia may be both the largest city in South Carolina and its capital, but that doesn't mean the city's interim police chief has anything better to do than threaten to hunt down and arrest citizens who post complaints on his department's Facebook page.

After the CPD published a post bragging about the recent seizure of "$40K of marijuana" from a Columbia apartment, resident Brandon Whitmer suggested in the comments that perhaps the department's resources would be better spent on tracking down "the people shooting people in 5 points instead of worrying about a stoner that's not bothering anyone."

"It'll be legal here one day anyway," he added.

An unidentified department employee did not appreciate Whitmer's take on reality, and responded by insisting that police "have arrested all of the violent offenders in Five Points" and thanking him for "sharing your views and giving us reasonable suspicion to believe you might be a criminal."

The comment concludes with the threat: "We will work on finding you."

Police Chief Theatens Citizen with Arrest for Facebook Complaint

Not surprisingly, the response was deleted almost as swiftly as it had appeared.

Surprisingly, it was replaced by a comment claiming to be from Interim Chief Ruben Santiago taking credit for the original comment, and blaming its disappearance on "one of my staff members."

"I put everyone on notice that if you advocate for the use of illegal substances in the City of Columbia then it's reasonable to believe you MIGHT also be involved in that particular activity, threat?" Santiago wrote. "Why would someone feel theaten [sic] if you are not doing anything wrong?"

Police Chief Theatens Citizen with Arrest for Facebook Complaint

Incidentally, this is the same Interim Chief Ruben Santiago who filed a defamation suit against a former Columbia police captain who claimed Santiago was planning to plant drugs in the car of a top city official.

Why would someone feel threaten [sic] if they are not doing anything wrong?

Popehat reached out to CPD to confirm the identity of the commenter, and got this back:

Chief Santiago did write those two posts. I believe the original comment was misconstrued. I appreciate you reaching out to CPD.

Chief was trying to say that he puts would-be-criminals on notice — if you commit a crime or plan to commit one, CPD will work hard to investigate and press charges according to the law.

It’s easy for social media posts to be misunderstood. The man who was so-called threatened openly admitted that he was not offended and appreciated the work of CPD.

Now move along.

[H/T: Boing Boing, images via Popehat, screengrab via WISTV]