S.C. Firefighter Arrested for Conducting Traffic Stop

CLOVER, S.C. -- A volunteer firefighter with the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department in Clover was arrested early Thursday after deputies say he illegally conducted a traffic stop on a driver he said was speeding.

A deputy responded to the area of Ridge Road near Glenn Road in Clover and found David Charles Williams, 29, of Clover, standing with a large white truck with flashing red and white lights on the side. The vehicle was parked behind a small white Chevrolet Cobalt, according to a York County Sheriff's report.

Williams had a fire department radio strapped around his chest and said he turned onto Ridge Road from Highway 321 when he saw a car drive up behind him, pass him on a double yellow line and then speed up, the report states.

Williams said he caught up with the car, turned on the lights on his car and pulled over the driver, a 17-year-old girl. He spoke with the girl and took her driver's license, which he later gave to the responding deputy, the report states.

The girl told the deputy that she thought Williams was a police officer. She then said he shouted profanities and then began questioning her about her driving.

Williams was charged with impersonating an officer. He is being held at the Moss Justice Center on a $1,092.50 bond.

Deputies made contact with a supervisor at the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department to make him aware of the situation.

"He was not acting on behalf of the fire department in any capacity, nor were we experiencing any kind of emergency at that time," said Michael Laws, chief of the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department.

Williams, a two-year volunteer, was "acting on his own behalf," Laws said.

The fire department's disciplinary panel is investigating the incident, but will refrain from making a "hasty decision," Laws said.

"We're looking it into the best we can" and working on gathering facts, Laws said.

When Williams decided to become a volunteer firefighter, Laws was his basic firefighting instructor, the chief said Thursday.

"He was a very good student; he scored well on his testing and he gave it all he had on his physical testing," Laws said. "He was very serious about it and he liked it very much."

The fire department, which responds to anywhere between 350 and 400 calls a year, benefited from Williams' eagerness to help, Laws said.

"He's a nice guy, willing to help," Laws said. "He was real eager to learn, real eager to help. It's very surprising for all of us.

"Dave was a great guy but it seems to me like he made a poor choice," Laws said. "Sometimes, people just make bad decisions."

By Thursday afternoon, Laws hadn't had a chance to speak with Williams but he said the fire department is "not taking it lightly."

Copyright 2012 - The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service