NORWAY, SC (WIS) - The police officer who blew the whistle on ticket-fixing in a small South Carolina town has resigned from the force after being suspended, written-up and reinstated.
Under investigation and fed up with allegations that he cheated on his time sheets and abused the town's police car use policy, Norway Police Officer Chris Moore turned in his uniform, badge and gun Monday morning. Moore said he feels the work environment will become more "hostile" if he continued working for the town.
"I know it's going to be hell because I've already opened a can of worms and it's not going to get any easier," said Moore. "They're going to do anything they can to try and slander my name and make me look bad and pretty much try to find anything on me they can."
The saga began on Thursday, when Moore told WIS News 10 that Norway Mayor Cindy Williams had a judge drop two speeding tickets Moore had written to friends of the mayor. After Moore's interview aired Thursday night, Police Chief Sean Hamilton suspended Moore for doing the interview without his permission. "He's not supposed to talk to the media without coming to me first," said Hamilton.
Then, on Friday, the chief let us in on a secret. "Since last Friday, we started an investigation on Mr. Moore's abuse, lying on time sheets, which is essentially stealing from the town of Norway," said Hamilton.
The chief said Moore was abusing the town's patrol car policy by driving it outside of town limits, and driving the car while he was off-duty. The chief said he has the evidence in a GPS tracking unit which Officer Moore says he found under his car several days ago. Hamilton also said Moore was using drugs and ordered him to take a drug test.
"I pretty much got suspended for telling the truth," countered Moore, who obliged Hamilton by driving to the Orangeburg Medical Center to take a drug test. "I'm satisfied that that's going to be fine because I've done no wrong. SLED will find that I've done no wrong, that's not the reason I'm resigning. The reason I'm resigning is because I can't work in a hostile environment."
Hours after Moore's drug test, the Norway Town Council held an emergency session to talk about the situation. Council voted to end Moore's suspension and ordered him to report to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to begin work on his full law enforcement certification.
Moore believes he's now become a target for blowing the whistle on the mayor. "I do fully think this is repercussions of me standing up and that's fine with me," said Moore. "We'll do what we have to do and get through this and find out the truth."
Chief Hamilton declined to talk about Moore's resignation, but said Moore would not have had a problem working for him. Moore said he's "burned out" on law enforcement and taking a job in fire services.
We tried again on Monday to have Mayor Cindy Williams talk about the traffic tickets, but she still has not returned our call. "The mayor was more worried about investigating me and as you saw, no one would answer questions about these tickets," said Moore. "You've been able to come to me and ask me questions about the allegations on me and I've been able to give you honest, straight answers. Where are the honest, straight answers on the tickets?"
The chief says he's waiting on SLED to tell him whether the agency plans to open an investigation into the tickets and Moore. A SLED spokeswoman says the agency hasn't made that decision yet.