SLED investigation details misconduct in office allegations against former Marion police chief

SLED investigation details misconduct in office allegations against former Marion police chief
(Source: WMBF News)

MARION, S.C. (WMBF) – Documents obtained from the State Law Enforcement Division provide new details surrounding misconduct in office allegations that ultimately led to the former Marion police chief’s sudden resignation.

Keith Parks resigned as the head of the Marion Police Department in November after being on the job less than two months.

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Marion city officials said he resigned amid a SLED investigation into misconduct allegations involving his employment with Pine Ridge Police Department.

Documents from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy accused Parks of lying about never being part of an internal investigation or never being disciplined.

WMBF News requested the SLED investigation into Parks through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Documents show the Pine Ridge mayor wrote to SLED and requested an investigation into Parks after it was discovered that he was driving his patrol vehicle to Orangeburg County, about an hour away from Pine Ridge.

During the investigation, it was discovered that during his time as police chief he was also working as JV basketball coach at Hunter-Kinard Tyler School in Orangeburg County and a substitute teacher with the Orangeburg Consolidated School District.

The Town of Pine Ridge requires their law enforcement officers to request permission to have any employment outside of the town. SLED documents show that Parks did not make a request to work as a teacher to the mayor or mayor pro tem.

During an interview with the SLED special agent, Parks said that during his interview for the police chief job, the mayor was aware that he was coaching JV basketball and substitute teaching and Parks asked if he could continue coaching.

“He had been told it would look good for the Town of Pine Ridge that he had coached. If something happened in the Town of Pine Ridge when he coached, he was expected to respond, and the school was aware of that,” according to the Parks’ SLED interview.

The SLED investigation also looked into discrepancies on Parks’ daily activity log sheet.

According to one example in the documents, Parks indicated on his log sheet that he worked from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., but from about noon until 2 p.m. his patrol vehicle was located at the Hunter-Kindard Tyler School.

There were also questions about compensatory time off that he would use. Compensatory time off is time off that employees can take instead of overtime pay.

SLED documents show that in one instance Parks indicated that he worked six hours of overtime when in fact his daily activity log sheet showed he had just worked three hours of overtime.

The Pine Ridge Town Council met in April 29, 2020, and voted four to one to terminate Parks. He emailed in his resignation that same day.

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