Westminster Police Clean Up Department After Former Chief Indict - WSPA.com

Westminster Police Clean Up Department After Former Chief Indicted

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The investigation into former police chief Johnny Scott Bannister left Westminster with an understaffed, underfunded, and underprotected department. The investigation into former police chief Johnny Scott Bannister left Westminster with an understaffed, underfunded, and underprotected department.
WESTMINSTER, S.C. -

The investigation into former police chief Johnny Scott Bannister left Westminster with an understaffed, underfunded, and underprotected department.

Vital equipment like bullet proof vests and weapons were missing.  State investigators say Bannister pocketed taxpayer money that was supposed to protect the town.

The new assistant chief, Rory Jones is now one new face among many.  After staff shrank to just 6 active officers, Jones is one of 11 on staff now.  He says as soon as he and his new boss took over, there were obvious changes needed.

"The first day, essentially, the first day and again we're still finding stuff," Jones said.

Earlier this year, SLED charged Bannister with embezzlement of more than $100,000 and misconduct in office.  His interim replacement, now Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, discovered much of the equipment Bannister was supposed to have ordered with taxpayer money didn't exist.  That included bullet proof vests, weapons, and drug testing kits.

When the community learned of the situation, they launched local fund raisers to find supplies for the department.  

Local DJ Kris Butts said, "we don't want to be known for $250 thousand dollars missing. We want to be known for helping buy protective vests for police officers."

Now, under a new chief, there are new procedures to protect taxpayers.  Everything is now under lock and key.

"All the way down to our uniforms, our badges, handguns long guns anything like that is under lock and key. It's not readily available to anybody," Jones said.

Now more than one employee, usually Jones and the new chief, have to sign for new purchases.

The department is back up to a staff of 11 and is rebuilding public trust.

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