HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Many questions remain regarding lawsuits and a State Law Enforcement Division investigation into the Horry County Police Department, yet county officials remain tight lipped.
WMBF News continues to seek information into what has happened and what will happen with the department as is allowed through the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, a law giving citizens access to information from government entities.
Previously, WMBF News requested over a year's worth of communication from a police department employee about former detective Allen Large.
Large, a 27-year veteran of the HCPD, was fired last July after an internal investigation found sustained sexual harassment allegations.
Since then, two lawsuits have been filed against Horry County, and Large himself, surrounding his actions on and off the job. Attorneys involved have indicated another lawsuit will soon be filed.
In response to WMBF News' FOIA request for those emails, Horry County sent two emails for that year-long time period, one of which was heavily redacted.
Last week, WMBF News resubmitted its FOIA request, making sure all documents were included. County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier responded, saying: "Since this FOIA has been completed, please let us know what email you feel is missing."
WMBF News then submitted a similar open records request to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and quickly got a response. In that response, the public information officer included an email about Large's certification and misconduct.
That email included words and email addresses that WMBF asked for in the FOIA requested to Horry County, yet wasn't included in the county's response.
When questioned why this email wasn't included with the others, the county spokeswoman responded: "I have confirmed with our IT Department that they searched ALL folders, including sent and trash, and provided what we could retrieve based on the perimeters you provided in your FOIA request on March 31, 2016."
Bourcier later added: "If a user 'double deletes' emails, there is no way to retrieve those emails. Again, we fulfilled your request with the data we have."
The Aug. 24, 2015 email exchange obtained from the Criminal Justice Academy also mentioned Large's disciplinary file. In the past, Horry County has told WMBF News it has no disciplinary records other than his termination letter.
A recent deposition and lawsuits against Large and Horry County mention the disciplinary file and past disciplinary action as well.
Over the past several weeks, the HCPD has seen its chief and deputy chief resign abruptly, in addition to the various lawsuits and SLED investigation into several employees.