Hardeeville police chief resigns

rlurye@islandpacket.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Hardeeville Police Chief Richard Nagy

SUBMITTED PHOTO — Submitted photo

Hardeeville Police Chief Richard Nagy resigned Monday, following questioning about his handling of a November incident between police officers and a City Council member, a former city manager said Thursday.

Former city manager Bob Nanni said there had been "an awful lot of attention" on the police chief since officers inspecting a gas station Nov. 10 recorded a confrontation with Councilman Sal Arzillo.

"I guess they were unhappy with the things (Nagy) was doing," Nanni said. "They brought it to my attention that they'd like to see some changes there."

Nanni declined to comment on whether council had asked him to fire Nagy. He also said he did not know if the chief's resignation was related to the Nov. 10 incident in which Arzillo was accused of interfering with a police operation.

Attempts to reach Nagy, Mayor Bronco Bostick and several council members were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon.

Nagy's departure after nearly seven years with the department came less than a month after Nanni offered his own resignation Feb. 6. Former Bamberg County administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott will fill Nanni's position starting Monday.

Arzillo, the subject of an ongoing S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigation into the incident at the gas station, could be seen in video footage refusing to leave the store and telling a police officer, "You're in the wrong area, son."

Reached Thursday, Arzillo said he had heard that the mayor recently received a letter from that police officer, in which he claimed Nagy was retaliating against him for not suing the city and Arzillo.

"He was asking the mayor for help," said Arzillo, who declined to comment further.

City attorney Tom Johnson said he could not discuss personnel issues or confirm or deny the existence of a letter.

Councilman Scott Ready, who confirmed the chief's resignation, referred all questions to Bostick.

"Any other council member that would address these topics is really speaking out of turn," Ready said.

Nagy's resignation is effective in four weeks, according to Ready. Johnson confirmed the chief's resignation and said Nagy is currently on leave.

Johnson said the city has not appointed an interim police chief to replace Nagy, who joined Hardeeville after working as the deputy director of the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy and with the Beaufort Police Department.

The year before Nagy was hired, six officers were fired or forced to resign, and another two chose to leave the department. While Nagy filled many of those positions, the turnover continued.

In April, the town agreed to a $30,000 settlement with a former Hardeeville police officer who claimed Nagy and a lieutenant sexually harassed and wrongfully fired her in 2010.

Nanni declined to discuss his own resignation, which followed an hourlong council session Feb. 6. He was the fifth city manager since 2008.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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