• Mooresville police chief placed on leave after claims of hostile work environment

    By: Elsa Gillis , Joe Bruno

    Updated:

    MOORESVILLE, N.C. - The Mooresville interim town manager has placed police Chief Damon Williams on paid administrative leave Monday, officials said in a news release.

    [PAST COVERAGE: Mooresville investigating working environment at police department]

    The decision was made pending a final review of an internal personnel investigation involving the police department, which is being conducted by an outside agency.

    The investigation by the outside organization was initiated because of complaints of a hostile work environment, town officials said.

    “This action is solely a personnel matter and was not based on any allegation or suspicion of criminal activity,” according to the news release.

    The Interim Town Manager Ryan Rase told our news partner the Mooresville Tribune that the third-party organization has been investigating since February and has conducted more than 70 interviews. 

    Rase said Williams could be on paid administrative leave until late July or early August when the formal investigation should be complete.

    "I was a little shocked -- makes you wonder why," resident Brian Reeves said.

    [ALSO READ: Mooresville police switch to new community policing model]

    During Monday night's commission meeting, several people showed their support for the chief after the announcement. 

    "I will tell you, if Chief Williams leaves, you haven't heard the last of us. Trust me, you have not," Former Police Chaplin William Conrad said. "It seems like when we get chance, the good ole boy network interferes." 

    Officials said while Williams is on administrative leave, Deputy Chief Gerald Childress will lead the department.

    [ALSO READ: Suspects lead police on chase after breaking into Mooresville gun shop]

    Williams joined the Mooresville Police Department in 2016 after serving four years as chief of police in Tarboro, North Carolina, according to the Mooresville’s website.

    Rase also placed police Capt. David Call on paid administrative leave, but officials have not said if it's connected to the investigation. Call is the supervisor of the Criminal Investigations Division.

    "I'm surprised,” resident Laura Brosseau said. “It’s a small town. There’s not a lot of secrets in a small town. To hear about it, it’s concerning. “You’d like to know more. You’re also concerned for both parties involved -- is it fair and true?"

    The mayor and town manager said Tuesday they couldn't comment on personnel matters.

    Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

    Next Up: