Latta residents protest police chief's firing by mayor

Former Police Chief Crystal Moore (center)
Former Police Chief Crystal Moore (center)
Several residents protested outside the Latta town hall Wednesday
Several residents protested outside the Latta town hall Wednesday

LATTA, SC (WMBF) – Several people protested outside the Latta Town Hall Wednesday after the Police Chief of the town was fired by the mayor on Tuesday.

Police Chief Crystal Moore was fired by Mayor Earl Bullard on Tuesday afternoon, councilman Jared Taylor confirmed.

Moore was a 25-year veteran of the department, and became the department's first female chief in March 2012.

Taylor says Moore received seven reprimands and was presented with all seven at the time of her dismissal.

The reported reprimands are:

- Running background checks without properly signed authorization

- Failure to report to supervisor about problems in other departments

- Using office/position to seek revenge against another for personal affront

- Questioning authority of supervisor

- Questioning authority of mayor to look at job applications for potential employees

- Failure to maintain order, contributing to disorder at council meetings

- Contacting news media to help bring about disorder and disruption to the town of Latta

Taylor said Moore was fired by the mayor since she refused to sign a letter of reprimand. Taylor added the mayor has the right to fire the police chief, but the final say has to come through council.

Taylor later said that there are other issues at play. He said the mayor has fired four people in the last three months, and many in the town are upset about this reported abuse of power. People are also upset about Mayor Bullard giving town car keys to the Rec Director, even though he was found to be under driver's suspension.

Police Chief Moore arrested the Rec Director, Taylor said. A jury trial for this incident is coming up, and Taylor believes Bullard's firing of Moore was a personal attack.

"He says that she did not hold order in our last council meeting. If you pull the records, the recordings of the last council meeting it shows none of that,"said Lutherine Williams, a Latta Councilperson.

Taylor said he believes there will be a discussion to reinstate Moore at the next council meeting on Thursday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m. A council member said the council may vote to change the town to a "strong council, weak mayor" style of government, which means that the mayor would not have the power to fire the police chief.

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