Latta attorney: administrator has power to fire police chief

LATTA, SC (WBTW) – The town of Latta is fighting back against charges that town officials broke the law when they fired police chief Crystal Moore. Monday the town got a letter from Moore’s attorney. Tuesday, the town fired back its own letter from town attorney Janet Byrd, who made it clear that Moore’s lawyer was way off base.

Latta Mayor Pro Tem and Assistant Town Administrator Brian Mason said the town did not break the law, something Crystal Moore’s attorney Malissa Burnette alleges happened when Moore was fired back on September 8th following a town council meeting.

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In her letter, Byrd said that as Town Administrator, Jarrett Taylor has “sole authority” when it comes to firing the town police chief.

“We passed an ordinance putting the town administrator in charge of hiring, firing and disciplining the employees,” Mason said.

Mason and Byrd both agree that no vote was needed to fire Moore and said none was ever taken.

In her letter, Byrd calls the charges from Moore’s attorney “vague threats,” and said they only serve to “antagonize the already precarious situation,”

The town is also responding to charges that Moore’s firing was retaliation for not notifying town officials when a town employee accused her superior of sexual harassment. Moore initially claimed that she could not reach anyone in town leadership–something Mason said simply is not true.

“If she couldn’t reach Jarrett Taylor, I’m always in my office, she could have reached out, she didn’t,” said Mason.

Mason said Moore was fired for that, as well as for other write-ups during her tenure.

“Since she came back, she’s acting like she’s in charge instead of us,” he explained.

Now that the town says Moore is out, they have already received two applications for the job of police chief. They plan to leave the job posted for about three weeks and then put a panel together to recommend Moore’s successor.

Moore’s attorney Malissa Burnette calls Byrd’s letter a “lovely public relations piece,” but says they will continue with their legal filing 

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