Ex-officer: I heard Pickens chief use racial slur - FOX Carolina 21

Ex-officer: I heard Pickens chief use racial slur

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Pickens Police Chief Tommy Ellenburg (pickenspd.org) Pickens Police Chief Tommy Ellenburg (pickenspd.org)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Pickens Police Chief Tommy Ellenburg was suspended for 15 days after city officials said they learned that he used "racially insensitive and derogatory remarks."

City officials said such conduct will not be tolerated. Ellenburg was given a final warning and an unpaid suspension, and he apologized.

Two weeks ago, former Pickens police Lt. Matt Ward said he made a complaint to the city about Ellenburg using the N-word.

Ward said Ellenburg used the racial slur towards citizens and African-American members of City Council.

Ward resigned from the force two weeks ago after reporting Ellenburg's alleged comments.

Ward said he and the chief had a rocky relationship over the past several months. "I did resign. I just felt like this is not a place I want to be, not the place I want to work, not for a person who was leading by these types of examples," said Ward.

The former lieutenant said he and other officers reported Ellenburg's alleged comments to city administrators, and that led to his suspension.

"I would be held to the same standard if I had done that. Sure the chief should be too," said Ward.

Shelia Crawford, president of the Pickens County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the organization was not satisfied with the suspension.

Crawford said, "The chief of police sets the culture for his department. If he is allowed to use the N-word, it sends the message to his staff that his behavior is acceptable."

She added that if the City Council allows Ellenburg to return to his position as chief, she believes it sends a message that local leaders condone the use of his language and racial discrimination.

City leaders said Ellenburg understands the seriousness of his actions and has apologized.

FOX Carolina has repeatedly asked to talk to the mayor of Pickens, City Council members and Ellenburg, but none of the calls were immediately returned.

Ellenburg is scheduled to return to work Wednesday.

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