By Paul Gable
A special called meeting of the Latta Town Council Friday night voted unanimously to reinstate Crystal Moore as Police Chief of the town.
Latta Mayor Earl Bullard was not in attendance at the meeting.
Bullard fired Moore on April 15th, ostensibly for not signing seven “reprimands”, but more probably because Bullard did not agree with Moore’s lesbian lifestyle.
After Moore’s firing, Bullard denied it was because of her lifestyle, but an audio clip emerged of Bullard telling a council member that he doesn’t agree with some lifestyles. Bullard went on to say he “was not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it … it’s not the way the world works.”
Town Council passed an “emergency ordinance” April 22nd temporarily blocking the mayor from hiring a new police chief.
With the town in an “uprising” over the popular Moore’s firing, town council voted 6-1, Bullard voting no, to hold a referendum to change Latta’s form of government from strong mayor to strong council.
The referendum was held Tuesday June 24th with a vote of 328 “yes” to change the form of government and 147 “no”. The vote was seen by citizens as an approval to reinstate Moore.
However, the day after the referendum vote, Bullard announced he had hired a new police chief, one Freddie Davis, most recently a captain in the Hemingway police department, to a two year contract.
The results of the referendum vote were certified Friday June 27th and the town council immediately notified the S.C. Secretary of State of Latta’s change in form of government.
During the special meeting Friday night June 27th, town council determined Bullard was in violation of town ordinance by hiring Davis unilaterally without the consent of council. Latta’s town Code requires council approval before such a hiring.
Council declared the hiring of Davis invalid and immediately voted unanimously to reinstate Moore.
To further complicate the situation, the Latta Police Department closed the Town Hall Friday placing evidence tape over the doors. The closing was said to be at the request of town council members who believed suspicious activity was going on.
A call was reportedly placed to SLED Chief Mark Keel by Latta council member Jared Taylor requesting SLED investigate “allegations involving the town.” Taylor was reportedly told that a letter from a majority of town council members would have to be sent to SLED. After receiving the letter, SLED would determine if the situation warrants an investigation.
Friday’s special council meeting was held at the Latta Community Center.
Slightly more than two months after Bullard caused an uprising by Latta citizens over his unilateral firing of Moore, she is back as police chief and Bullard is stripped of his power.
That is a perfect example of what happens when citizens have had enough and are stimulated to coordinate their actions to defy elected officials who ignore the will of the people.