Former AB police, interim town manager talk about firings

Wednesday, the town of Atlantic Beach fired its entire police force.

The move comes the day after two newly seated councilmen took office.

At Atlantic Beach's Tuesday night town council meeting, newly seated Councilman Windy Price and Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Cole said they wanted to push accountability in the town. In just a day and a half, that push has lead to a major shuffle in their line up.

Three police officers made up the Atlantic Beach police force. Wednesday, Former Chief Eric Lewis, Lieutenant Randy Fisher and Sergeant Charles Bryant were told their services were no longer needed.

Interim Town Manager Benny Webb told NewsChannel 15, "The decision was made because of an abandonment." He elaborated by saying they were asked to attend a meeting after town council Tuesday night and did not.

On Tuesday, after Cole and Price took their seats, they, along with Councilman Donnell Thompson, voted to make several changes to the town leadership including replacing the town's judge, assistant judge, and city attorney. Webb said the town clerk, clerk of court, and financial officer will finish out the week before they're let go. They also gave town manager William Booker a three week vacation and appointed Webb in the interim.

After that, they announced the three officers and Webb would meet at the end of last night's meeting. Lewis and Fisher had already gone home and say they didn't have to be at the meeting in the first place.

"We were originally at the meeting because we were curious to see where it was going, but there was nothing saying we had to be at the meeting, so I went home. I was tired," Fisher said.

"After working a 12 hour shift, I feel like it was time for me to go home to my family," Lewis said.

The council asked Bryant, who was still at the meeting, to call the other officers, but Fisher said their phones were off. Bryant says they weren't required to attend the meeting.

"That's why the meeting last night was of paramount importance," Webb said. "However the meeting did not take place because the officers decided to abandon their post and abandon the city."

"We don't need law enforcement and politics bleeding into each other as much as they were bleeding into one another," Cole said.

Lewis and Fisher had worked for Atlantic Beach for a little more than a year. Bryant had worked for Atlantic Beach for 5 years. They all say they didn't abandon their post.

"I'm not sure where I'm going now as far as even talking with an attorney or anything right now, but I am going to be here with this town as much anyways I can try to," Lewis said.

Webb, who was Director of Public Safety in Atlantic Beach from 2004 to 2005, says the decision to fire the force had be approved by the town's legal council. He added none of the officers were under contract.

So without a police force, who's protecting the town? Webb told us he called Horry County PD Tuesday night and asked that department to help cover the town.