NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – One South Carolina lawmaker says the community deserves answers regarding the decision to fire a Chief Deputy with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). Some activists say the agency has double standards when it comes to internal discipline.
State Representative Marvin Pendarvis says he plans to send a letter to Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano asking for answers and transparency behind the decision to fire Chief Deputy Joyce Smith.
“It’s insane, it makes no sense,” says community advocate Pastor Thomas Dixon. “It’s just time to be straight up about it, about the situation.”
Chief Deputy Smith was fired on April 1st for knowingly failing to pay outstanding student loan debt, according to CCSO. The failure to pay the debt broke state law and a sheriff’s office policy. But some feel there was more driving the decision.
“The silence from the sheriff’s office is unacceptable,” says Pastor Dixon. “She should have came out and said ‘well okay, here’s my reasoning.'”
Activists including Pastor Dixon and Jonathan Thrower believe there is a double standard within CCSO. The pair referenced a former deputy with the agency, Ryan Miller, who was originally fired but then allowed to resign after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
“Many who have committed crimes, [Graziano has] gone out of her way to make sure that she can allow them to avoid firing,” says Thrower.
Dixon and Thrower say while acknowledge Smith’s wrongdoing, they don’t believe she should have been fired.
“To fire them over student loans, that’s very questionable and that’s why — albeit we don’t have the evidence — we’re wondering is there something more?” says Thrower.
Regardless, activists say change is needed.
“Apparently… we’re not doing everything that we should be doing to hold this administration accountable,” says Pastor Dixon. “That’s about to change.”
The Sheriff’s Office told News 2 they don’t comment on personnel matters. There’s no clear timeframe for when Representative Pendarvis plans to send his letter to Sheriff Graziano.