DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Two Darlington County sheriff’s deputies were fired Friday after a citizen filed a complaint against them for conducting political campaign efforts while in uniform and using county vehicles.
A Darlington city official confirmed to News 13 that Captain Joyce Everett and Captain Eric Hodges have been terminated.
Sheriff Wayne Byrd said the two officers went into a store on their lunch break. One officer was in uniform and the other was not as they purchased some personal items as well as some items to be used at a planned campaign event.
The two were also using a county vehicle at the store. Sheriff Byrd said when a citizen told him about what happened, he investigated and then decided to fire the two officers.
The Sheriff is currently in a battle with Tony Chavis, himself a 28-year law enforcement veteran. Voters head to the primary polls on June 14. Chavis questioned whether the deputies acted on their own or not.
“We don’t know if these deputies were instructed to do this,” Chavis said. “Two seasoned deputies lost their jobs as a result of this incident. It is unfortunate for everyone involved.”
The Sheriff, who was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, said he’s not happy with the decision he had to make, but he stands by it. In a statement to the press Friday afternoon Byrd apologized for the actions of his deputies.
“Politics has no place in the Sheriff’s Office,” the statement read.
Back in 2012, a similar event forced the Sheriff to fire six deputies who he says were campaigning for his opponent.
“You have to bear the standard out equally,” Byrd said.
The Sheriff said everyone on his staff was well aware in advance of the campaign that this kind of thing would not be tolerated.