For 14 years and through two different mayors, Mark Fallaw was the police chief for the town of North. That career came to an end on December 1 when he resigned, stating issues with the new mayor, Patty Carson.
“For her to be directing procedures that were contrary to national standards, that was going to cause a problem,” said Fallaw. “So I just said it was best for me probably to step down.”
Fallaw says Carson issued a gag order on the department saying they were not able to speak to media members and she would handle all requests. Fallaw says the new mayor also requested a two-week notice on any public appearances and also wanted to monitor incoming and outgoing department emails.
Fallaw detailed those concerns in his letter of resignation and when he left, his employees followed.
With no force to patrol the town, the county has had to take over. In a statement, the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office says “the agency is answering calls and responding to those calls until further notice.”
News 19 reached out to Mayor Carson on the phone and in person. Carson refused to comment, saying she will not discuss personnel issues in a public forum before hanging up the phone.
When we asked to meet with her at the town hall, Carson told us she couldn’t meet because she wasn’t available and had no comment.
Business owner Russell Jeffcoat says residents are also keeping quiet on the issue, but there is a concern in the town.
“Without a police presence or without the county being present more often, it gives us concerns for our safety and for the business’s safety as well,” said Jeffcoat.
Fallaw says the sheriff’s office does a great job, but there are reasons why those concerns are valid.
“We’ve given them a 60% reduction in violent crime and a 30% in property crimes and I’d love to continue that,” said Fallaw. “I just fear that because of the way this panned out, that they’re going to go in reverse now.”
He also believes Carson will have a tough time replenishing the department because of higher paying jobs in other towns and in the county.
Jeffcoat and others say they hope the transition will go smoothly, and for now the town is waiting to see what’s next for them.