The entire small police force of North, South Carolina, including police chief Mark Fallaw, has resigned, prompted by the city’s new mayor issuing a gag order for the department.
Fallaw, along with fellow officer Anthony Blanchard, submitted his resignation on November 17, giving two weeks notice. Fallaw, who served on the force for 14 years, asserted that Mayor Patty Carson told the department all requests from media would have to be handled by her; she wanted to monitor the department’s incoming and outgoing emails, and she demanded that members of the department give her two weeks notice before they made any public appearances. He also claimed she wanted him to write three times as many tickets and would only permit him to buy gas or tires with her approval.
Fallaw told WLTX 19, “For her to be directing procedures that were contrary to national standards, that was going to cause a problem. So I just said it was best for me probably to step down.”
One officer left just before Carson’s election, and another regular officer and a reserve officer followed Fallaw when he left. Two other officers resigned earlier in 2015, finding jobs at other agencies.
The county’s law enforcement has had to step up and substitute for the police; the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office said, “The agency is answering calls and responding to those calls until further notice.” Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young added, “When you have to start policing areas that were not a part of your original jurisdiction, it causes us to have to start using man power and other things in addition that causes overtime issues for the county. So there is a cost to the county for dealing with a situation like that.”
When contacted by WLTX 19, Carson refused to comment, arguing that personnel issues should not be discussed publicly.
Fallaw agreed with some residents that the town is less safe as a result of the force’s walkout. He stated, “We’ve given them a 60% reduction in violent crime and a 30% in property crimes and I’d love to continue that. I just fear that because of the way this panned out, that they’re going to go in reverse now.” He noted that replacing the officers may be difficult, because similar jobs in other towns offer more pay.