Calhoun Falls Town Council members held a special meeting Thursday evening to discuss police chief J.T. Galloway’s employment and another personnel issue.
Council members said Galloway’s leadership has been called into question after the handling of the recent bank robbery investigation.
Galloway said a man armed with a gun robbed the Park Sterling Bank on Savannah Street on Sept. 10. On Sept. 14, the solicitor said Shaquean Newjean Lewis, was charged with armed robbery, kidnapping, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Solicitor David Stumbo released the following statement about the incident:“As of this morning, I have had the opportunity to fully discuss and review with the Calhoun Falls Police Department and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) the early stages of the investigation of the Calhoun Falls Park Sterling Bank armed robbery which occurred a week ago today. As I stated previously, the suspect who is now in custody as of Monday evening is innocent until proven guilty, and we look forward to trying this case to a jury of Abbeville County citizens in the near future to make sure that justice is done.After my inquiry, it appears that the following issues primarily led to the premature release of the suspect from custody on the afternoon of the incident last Thursday:1) Poor communication between the Calhoun Falls police and the assisting SLED and FBI agents as to who was to be the lead agency in this investigation. By default, the local police agency with jurisdiction (here the Calhoun Falls Police Department) is the lead agency in the investigation until a specific request is made to SLED to take the lead on the investigation;2) Poor communication between the Calhoun Falls police chief and the assisting SLED and FBI agents as to who would make the ultimate decision on making the arrest and seeking warrants from the magistrate judge;3) A complete lack of communication by any of the investigators involved to me or my deputy solicitors, all of whom are available by cell phone 24 hours a day to consult with law enforcement investigators on legal issues such as probable cause to make an arrest, until Friday after the suspect had already been released from custody.My office has always worked well with Chief Galloway and officers in his department on past cases of great importance to the Calhoun Falls community. I hope that this breakdown in communication is an isolated incident, and I am confident that we will continue our strong working relationship with the Calhoun Falls Police Department going forward. After our meeting today, we have established that SLED will be the lead agency, with Calhoun Falls Police Department and the FBI continuing to assist, on the follow-up investigation as we prepare this case for court.”
Mayor Johnnie Waller fired Galloway and a police lieutenant in February during a private meeting. At the next council meeting in March, council members voted to reinstate both officers.
Following the meeting on Thursday night, the city council adjourned without taking action in regards to Galloway. Several members of the public were in attendance, showing their support for the police chief.
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