Latta names new police chief

Freddie Davis, the man Mayor Earl Bullard says he has hired to be the new Latta Police Chief

Latta Mayor Earl Bullard says he's hired Freddie Davis as the new police chief of Latta, after firing the previous chief, Crystal Moore, on April 15.

The announcement about Davis' hiring comes one day after voters approved a referendum Tuesday to change the town's form of government giving council more power than the mayor.

Davis was hired one week before the referendum, around June 18, and the contract was signed on June 23, Bullard said.

Bullard said he interviewed seven candidates for the position since Moore's termination.

Crystal Moore was very emotional as she told us today she feels as if she's been fired again.

"I have went from being a ecstatic, overwhelmed, not able to speak to crushed again. Once again the citizens came out and did what was necessary. He said he would do what the citizens wanted what. They came out and they spoke. They supported the yes vote," said Moore.

She said she believes Bullard hired Davis to retaliate against the town for changing the form of government.

Bullard said he didn't hire Bullard for his own selfish reasons, but felt he was the most qualified for the position and that it was time for the town of Latta to move forward.

"The town has to continue. The town has to go on we can't dwell on what happened in the past. The only thing that we can do is try to move forward. And in that, the way to move forward is to put someone in place permanently. Not taking anything away from the interim chief, I think he's done a fine job but we need someone permanently with enough leadership and experience and capabilities to continue to bring this town forward," explained Bullard.

After Moore was fired, the town council decided to hold a special election on June 24 to let voters decide if they wanted to change the form of government in the town from Strong Mayor-Weak Council to Weak Mayor-Strong Council.

Council said at the time it would rehire Moore if voters approved the change to a Strong Council form of government, which they did Tuesday.

Moore has said she believes she was fired for being an openly gay woman, while Bullard has said he had cause to fire her based on several reprimands she had received for things like questioning the authority of a supervisor, contacting the news media to bring disorder to the town of Latta and not maintaining order at council meetings.

On May 22, the town grievance committee found that there was no proof Moore was fired for being gay, but made no recommendation about further action.

According to the SC Municipal Association, the town council will now need to notify the SC Secretary of State's Office about the results of the June 24 vote, and then that office would begin to make changes in Latta's town code to reflect its new form of government.

Davis said he's looking forward to the new position and doing positive things in Latta. Davis said he starts work July 1.

Bullard says Davis has a two year contract and his salary will be $40,000.

At a meeting on April 17, the town council passed an emergency ordinance that postponed the hiring another police chief for 60 days.

Davis' hiring was just outside that 60 day window.

We reached six of the seven town council members. Two told us they would comment only if they could do so anonymously. The others simply declined to comment.

We will continue to follow this story and post updates throughout the day.