The South Carolina town whose openly gay police chief was fired two months ago voted to reinstate her on Tuesday, stripping powers from the mayor who removed her from the job.
When Latta police chief Crystal Moore was fired in April; many residents believed it was because she is a lesbian, though a town committee was unable to determine definitively if that was the reason and the mayor denied it.
“I’m ecstatic,” Moore told The Morning News in South Carolina upon learning of the town’s overwhelming vote in her favor. “Words can’t describe.”
But in a shocking turn of events, the mayor announced the next day that he’d hired a new police chief before he lost his power to do so.
WPDE NewsChannel 15 reports that Bullard announced the hiring of Freddie Davis on June 18th, a week ahead of the referendum reinstating Moore, and contracts were signed on June 23rd.
"I have went from being a ecstatic, overwhelmed, not able to speak to crushed again," Moore told WPDE. "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."
Hundreds of residents from the 1,400 person town rallied in support of Moore. It’s unclear what the council, which is now in charge of governing the town after the vote, can do now that a new police chief has been hired. The votes will be certified on Friday, after which the town will be officially "council-strong", rather than "mayor-strong."
Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore four months into his own term after giving her seven reprimands, alleging that she failed to maintain order and questioned authority, but Moore maintained that she had done nothing wrong and that these were her first reprimands in two decades with the department. At the same time, a council member released a recorded phone call of the mayor devilering a homophobic rant where he said he’d prefer to leave his children with a raging alcoholic over someone whose “lifestyle is questionable.”
But Bullard told the channel it was time to move forward after Moore's dismissal.
"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," he said.