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article imageEntire police force in S.C. town quits in protest of mayor

By Megan Hamilton     Dec 3, 2015 in Politics
North - A dispute with the newly-elected mayor has spurred the police chief and the officers in this town to quit, leaving this small Orangeburg County town with no police force.
Police Chief Mark Fallaw handed in his letter of resignation on Nov. 17.
What spurred his resignation?
Fallaw said he couldn't work with Mayor Patty Carson because she allegedly wanted the department to write at least three times as many tickets than had been done previously, and she required the chief to show her all of his emails, The Herald reports. He also said she only authorized him to buy tires and gas without permission.
"I would describe her management style as dictator," Fallaw told The Times and Democrat.
One officer had left before the election. Afterwards, the clerk, a reserve officer, Fallaw and one other officer resigned.
Fallaw also alleged Carson has assumed an "alarming" level of control over town operations since becoming mayor and added that he wasn't authorized to talk to the media without her authorization.
North City Hall.
North City Hall.
YouTube screen grab USA Today
"She said there would be ramifications if you talked to the media," he said.
Lastly, he says Carson reportedly requested two-week's notice on public appearances and wanted to monitor the department's incoming and outgoing emails, he told KSDK.
Tuesday was Fallaw's last day, and now he feels free to speak about the changes that led the entire police department to resign, The Times and Democrat reports. After more than 13 years as chief, he says he resigned because he didn't feel he could follow the mayor's demands.
The former police chief detailed his concerns in his letter of resignation and once he left, the rest of the department followed.
Now the tiny town of 750 has no police force, so the county has had to take over. The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that "the agency is answering calls and responding to those calls until further notice."
KSDK and WLTX-TV tried to speak with Carson and in both cases, she told reporters she would not discuss personnel issues in a public forum. KSDK asked if they could talk with her at the town hall, she said she couldn't meet with the station because she wasn't available and had no comment.
Greenville Online noted Carson was elected to the Town Council in 2010, and Fallaw alleges she asked the police department for its cellphone records, but didn't ask any other town agencies. He says she backed down after he told her it would cost $700 to black out phone numbers of confidential informants and victims.
He admits he's worried about the town right now. There's a Christmas parade planned that would cross train tracks on a busy U.S. Highway and no officers to block and direct traffic.
Others are concerned as well.
Russell Jeffcoat, who owns a local business, says residents are keeping mum on the issue, but are worried.
"Without a police presence or without the county being present more often, it gives us concerns for our safety and for the business's safety as well," he told KSDK.
While the sheriff's office does a great job, those concerns are valid, Fallaw said.
"We've given them a 60 percent reduction in violent crime and a 30 percent in property crimes and I'd love to continue that," he said. "I just fear that because of the way this panned out, that they're going to go in reverse now."
Because there are higher paying jobs in other towns and in the county, Fallaw also thinks Carson will have a difficult time replenishing the department.
For his part, Jeffcoat and others hope the transition will go without a hitch, but for now the town is waiting to see what happens.
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