Gay police chief didn't follow town policy
LATTA, S.C. (AP) —
The openly gay police chief of a small South Carolina town was suspended after failing to inform supervisors of a sexual harassment claim, revealing an officer's salary at a public meeting and other issues that arose over a few weeks, according to her disciplinary reprimands.
Crystal Moore also failed to file required weekly reports on the condition of her department's vehicles and checked another employee's disciplinary records without permission, according to the documents released Friday after The Associated Press requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.
Moore was suspended for five days earlier this month. She responded to all four reprimands by promising to follow town policy in the future and also said she was only trying to help a new employee when she accessed the disciplinary records.
"It will NOT happen again," Moore wrote on one reprimand.
Moore said in a text message she won't comment on the reprimands until her lawyer says it is OK to discuss them. She also said she was helping out after parts of the town lost power Friday in Tropical Storm Hermine.
On her Facebook page she wrote, "I am proud of the work I've done as Latta's Chief and stand by my record of honesty and accountability." She didn't go into details about the circumstances of why she was suspended.
The sexual harassment claim was not filed against Moore, but the documents do not indicate which town employees were involved in the case.
Regarding that case, Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor wrote in the reprimand that a supervisor must be told before any other action is taken. He said Moore only tried to contact him after bringing in a sheriff's office deputy to take a report.
"Simply texting a situation after it has been put into motion does not suffice," Taylor wrote. "Ms. Moore by her own writing ... has not grasped the concept and does not seem to take constructive criticism well."
Taylor said Friday that Moore and the town are back on good footing after she served her punishment. "Far as I'm concerned, it's over and done with," Taylor said.
Latta officials initially refused to release the reprimands to the AP, saying they were private personnel records. The town relented after an AP reporter pointed out a 2004 South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that said the way police officers do their jobs has "a large and vital public interest that outweighs their desire to remain out of the public eye."
Moore was fired two years ago, after nearly two decades working in Latta, because of her sexuality. Taylor, who also sits on the Town Council, was instrumental in helping get her job back. Taylor recorded Latta's mayor saying he would rather have a drunk watch his grandchildren than a gay person.
The town of 1,400 people about 25 miles northeast of Florence rallied around Moore, stripping the mayor of his power. The Town Council then hired her back and passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Moore announced earlier this year that she planned to run for Dillon County sheriff as a petition candidate and has started to campaign during her off hours. Taylor said town officials are fine with her campaign for office.
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