- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

GETTSYBURG, S.D. (AP) - Gettysburg’s police chief says his resignation has nothing to do with debate over the department’s emblem and uniform patch that includes a Confederate flag.

Bill Wainman said in his resignation letter that he has taken a position with the Hot Springs Police Department, in part to be closer to family, KCCR radio reported. His last day as Gettysburg’s chief will be Aug. 21.

Debate over the police patch arose last month when at least one person called for its demise amid nationwide debate about the Confederate flag. The discussion was sparked by the shooting deaths of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The suspected gunman posted photos of himself online displaying the Confederate flag.

Gettysburg officials refused to change the patch, with Wainman and Mayor Bill Wuttke saying it is a tribute to the town that was settled by Civil War veterans from both sides in the 1880s and named after the site of a battle that’s considered the turning point of the war. They said the patch has nothing to do with racism.

Scott Barksdale, a South Carolina resident who designed the patch for the Gettysburg Police Department, told The Associated Press that the crossed Confederate and American flags on the emblem are meant to show the unity of the Civil War survivors who came together to settle in the town.

The City Council on Wednesday night accepted Wainman’s resignation and named patrol officer Mark Kessler to succeed Wainman. Kessler told the Capital Journal that he supports keeping the patch.

“The controversy will stay, no matter who is the chief of police,” he said. “I will fight to keep the patch in every way that I can, because of its history and not because of what someone else says it stands for.”


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