Sheriff releases statement as email to employees titled ‘Calling a Few Out!’ causes uproar

VIDEO: Sheriff releases statement as email to employees titled ‘Calling a Few Out!’ causes uproar

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - Colleton County’s sheriff is getting some criticism for an email he sent out to all employees.

In the email sent out on Aug. 19, Sheriff Andy Strickland advised his employees to stay away from potential candidates.

The subject in the email is “Calling a Few Out!”

In the email, sent from Strickland’s work email account, he reminded the employees that South Carolina is an at-will state and that they work under the office of the sheriff.

The sheriff wrote, If a potential candidate contacts an employee, his advice would be to “not get involved.”

Strickland told employees to “read between the lines”and to remain loyal and support him as a leader as well as a sheriff.

He said from here on out “zero tolerance is now in effect.” He also wrote, “Stay in your lane.”

Tyeesha Aiken received a copy of the email.

“When I saw the email I just felt the boldness from the sheriff to put it in ink to let the people know this is how serious I am and what measures he will take to intimidate his own people,” Aiken said.

Melissa Steedley also received a copy of the sheriff’s email.

“The stay in your lane, it’s kind of threatening and to say that you know South Carolina is a hire or fire state or whatever? Basically saying stay in your lane or you’re gonna get fired. That’s what I got from it,” Steedley said.

The sheriff’s email comes two months after the county settled a lawsuit with a former deputy who accused the sheriff of firing her because she didn’t support him during his last re-election campaign.

The county through the state’s insurance reserve fund paid Lesley Jamison about $65,000 in damages and attorney fees.

Strickland declined a request for an on-camera interview but issued a statement Monday afternoon:

The role of Sheriff is similar to that of a coach. Someone who is motivated, hands-on and passionate, encouraging their team, never giving up on them no matter how hard the struggle. Believing in me and what our office stands for allows us to be on the same page ensuring the well-being of the citizens of Colleton County. As a leader I promise to uphold my service, and continue to do what’s best for our employee’s and citizens of this community.

Strickland is up for re-election in November 2020.

Filing for that race does not open until March, according to the South Carolina Election Commission.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.