Mooresville police chief resigns after claims of hostile work environment

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The Mooresville police chief submitted his letter of resignation Thursday, according to town officials.

The Mooresville interim town manager had placed police Chief Damon Williams on paid administrative leave back in June.

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

Williams told Channel 9 Thursday that he was offered another position and decided to take it. He said, "It was time."

The decision to place him on leave 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.

Interim Town Manager Ryan Rase told our news partner the Mooresville Tribune that the third-party organization has been investigating since February.

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

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

At a commission meeting earlier this year, 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."

While Williams was on administrative leave, Deputy Chief Gerald Childress was leading 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 Mooresville’s website.

Rase had 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 had said they couldn't comment on personnel matters.

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