NORWAY, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has released a copy of a patrolman's dash camera video showing the trooper ticketing Norway's mayor and then being pulled over himself -- by the mayor.
DMV records show Norway Mayor Jim Preacher was driving the town's unmarked Dodge Charger 70 mph in a 55 mph zone on Jan. 18. Preacher was just outside the town's limits when the trooper picked up the speeding on his radar. After the trooper issued Preacher a four-point ticket [read the ticket here (.pdf)], the video shows Preacher make a U-turn and turn his lights and sirens on to make a stop on the trooper.
"Can I see your driver's license," the Norway mayor asked the trooper. The trooper pulls his license out when Preacher tells him the reason for the stop, "Are you familiar with interfering with a police officer?" Preacher asked.
Preacher claims he was acting as the town's chief constable and was investigating an attempted armed robbery at a gas station that night in Norway. Preacher was driving the former chief's patrol car. Norway has been without a police department since August 2011, after former mayor Cindy Williams sent a letter to the state's criminal justice academy, stating that Norway "disbanded" its police force because the town couldn't afford the officers.
Preacher took the trooper's license and patrol car registration and spent 23 minutes with it, sitting inside his Charger. The trooper's dash cam audio caught the entire episode. You can hear the trooper complying with Preacher's commands, and then a string of phone calls between the trooper and his supervisors.
In the first call, the trooper tells his boss, "I don't know what he pulled me for; he—I don't know. He's back there now, I don't know what he's doing." Seventeen minutes into the stop, the trooper's supervisor tells him to take his phone to Preacher.
"I'm going to file a formal complaint, I'm going to take him back to my office and issue him a ticket for interfering with a police officer," Preacher told the unidentified supervisor. Preacher tells the supervisor that he should have gotten a "professional courtesy," since he was a law enforcement officer, and let go without a ticket.
"Son, you got a lot to learn," Preacher told the trooper as he handed him his license back and drove away. Preacher did not issue the trooper a ticket for interfering.
DPS launched an investigation into the stop the following day. After reviewing the tapes, DPS turned their investigation over to the State Law Enforcement Division to determine whether Preacher violated state law in stopping the trooper. SLED is also investigating whether Preacher had any police powers, since his law enforcement certification records show that his certification is "inactive" with the academy.
Preacher claims he is acting as Norway's "chief constable," a title granted to him during a Jan. 9, 2012 council meeting in Norway. Preacher who was sworn in as the town's mayor just days before that, makes $32,000 a year in that position, according to records.
SLED turned its investigation over to the State Attorney General's office for an opinion as to whether Preacher has police powers, and the authority to conduct traffic stops. The AG has not issued its opinion as of this report.
SLED has not closed its investigation.