Speed trap? Mayor denies former cops' claim that town has quota By LEE TANT, T&D Staff Writer Sunday, June 21, 2009 Leave a Comment | Default | Large NORWAY – Two former Norway police officers have filed lawsuits against the town claiming they were fired for refusing to meet traffic ticket quotas. Curtis William Mizzell and William Randall Day claim the town ordered them, “to meet an Illegal traffic fines/citation quota to raise revenue for the town and to pay all or a portion of Plaintiff’s compensation.” The quota policy was established by Mayor Brad Fogle and town council, according to the lawsuits. That’s not so, according to Fogle. Fogle stated unequivocally there is “absolutely not” a traffic ticket quota in his town. Mizzell and Day filed individual lawsuits on May 14. The men, who are represented by Benjamin Mabry of Columbia, are seeking payment for lost wages and punitive damages. The lawsuits claim the quota was for the “sole purpose of raising revenue for the town and to pay salaries and wages, including those of the plaintiff.” But Fogle said, “They (Mizzell and Day) were paid by the hours they worked, not by the tickets they wrote.” The two men began working with the Norway Police Department in the fall of 2006. Mizzell said he and Day were good cops who were well respected in the town. Mizzell was fired last September while Day was let go in March, the lawsuits claim. Mizzell is now with the Eutawville Police Department. Day was recently hired by the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office. Fogle wouldn’t discuss why the two men were fired, saying it was a personnel matter. Mizzell said Fogle told him directly he was fired for not meeting the quota. Mizzell said he was also fired for two undisclosed personal reasons. Fogle says he hasn’t been served with the lawsuits. The town has yet to file a response. “This is new to me. I don’t know what’s going on,” said acting Police Chief Chris Golden, the town’s only police officer. First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said he isn’t sure if a quota system itself is illegal. His office is not looking into the officers’ claims. South Carolina law makes it illegal for any portion of collected traffic fines to go to an officer as a form of compensation. Mabry said his clients were fired when they refused to abide by the quota. “They did the same thing to me,” former Norway Police Chief Jim Preacher said. Preacher, now the Ehrhardt police chief, was fired in the summer of 2007 by Fogle. He claims not following a quota was a reason for his ouster. He said a quota system places an undue burden on officers, especially considering the economy. “It could cause a police officer to write tickets that are not correct to keep his job and keep his family clothed and fed,” Preacher said. He sued the town last year for $30,929, saying he wasn’t paid for working overtime as the wastewater system manager. The town said Preacher never submitted documentation for the overtime and that it wasn’t approved anyway. Day is also suing the town for allegedly not paying him to attend a police training program. Fogle countered that Day was an uncertified part-time officer and went to the training on his own. The town told Day upfront it wouldn’t pay for the training, Fogle said. Late last year, Fogle suggested disbanding the police department. He said the department was costing more money than it was bringing in. Many town residents didn’t like the idea. During a December 2008 council meeting, several residents pointed to a string of break-ins as an indication of the need for local police protection. Fogle now says scrapping the department would be unlikely at this point. “We’re still trying to make this work. That would be one of our last alternatives,” Fogle said Thursday. T&D Staff Writer Lee Tant can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803-534-1060. Discuss this and other stories at TheTandD.com.