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S.C. Police Chief Resigns After Using the 'N-Word'

PICKENS, S.C. --

After he admitted using a racial slur and was given an unpaid suspension, an Upstate police chief resigned Thursday night.

Pickens Police Chief Tommy Ellenburg resigned from his position after the NAACP pushed to have him fired.

The Pickens City Council voted 3-2 to accept Ellenburg's resignation.

The mayor and County Councilman Tommy Stephens voted against accepting the resignation.

The meeting room was at overflow capacity before it even began.

Members of the NAACP met with Pickens city officials Thursday evening to demand Ellenburg's termination.

"The N-word should not be in the mindset of the police chief for what is in the heart will come out," said Pickens County NAACP president Sheila Crawford. "An apology is not enough."

Ellenburg had served a 15-day unpaid suspension for using the "N-word" but NAACP official said it was not enough of a punishment.

City officials told Crawford Ellenburg used racial slurs in front of four officers on two separate occasions.

Pickens Administrator Katherine Brackett said Ellenburg apologized for the racial slur and had returned to work following his suspension.

Ellenburg's resignation is effective immediately.

Brackett said the search for a new chief will begin soon, until then Assistant Chief Rodney Gregory will be acting chief.

"I think all the officers here are hurt and I think we have some issues to work through in our department. I think there might be some anger with the city, so I don't think bringing anyone in new right now is going to fix anything," said Brackett. "I honestly wouldn't be surprised if some officers just resigned (Friday) morning. (Ellenburg) has an immense amount of support and contrary to what former ex-officers here have said, his department is hurt."

Mayor David Owens said the resignation was "totally unexpected."

"I think (Ellenburg) is probably thinking he did what was best for the community. Knowing that he has a perfect record probably made it a little hard on him that people kept bringing this up again and again and again," said Owens. "I hate something like this is bringing a good man down."

Councilman Fletcher Perry is one of three who voted to accept the resignation.

"It's a sad time in Pickens right now. No one wins in this. I just think for the police force to be effective and continue serving the people, it's best for Mr. Ellenburg to resign."

Council voted to continue paying insurance for Ellenburg for eight months, at a cost of about $400 a month, according to Brackett.

Ellenburg will also get about $13,000 out of the general leave balance, which pays for vacation and sick time.

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