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S.C. officer fired after writing ticket to popular coach

A South Carolina police officer -- who was fired two weeks after issuing a speeding ticket to a college football coach -- and his department share differing accounts as to why the man lost his job.

The officer wrote the ticket to the head coach of Clemson University, citing him for driving 63 miles per hour on a street in Pickens, South Carolina, that has a speed limit of 35 mph. The coach said he was late to a local supermarket, where he was to take part in a radio show, and he pulled into the parking lot there when he saw the officer attempt to pull him over.

Witnesses at the supermarket asked the coach for autographs, and some posted the news of the ticket, along with photos, on Internet forums and other sites. Some said in their posts that the coach threw a tantrum at the scene, while others said the officer ticketed the coach because he is a fan of the University of South Carolina, Clemson's biggest rival.

Among the online posts, according to city officials in Pickens, was one by the officer on a University of South Carolina message board. While the officer said he wrote the post at home and briefly used the computer to try to correct misinformation that had spread online, officials said he sat at a police department computer terminal for an extended period while on department time.

The officer disagreed. He said he was fired because he did not let the popular coach off the hook with just a warning and actually did his job by issuing a citation. He said the computer usage is merely an excuse and that he followed the proper procedures in issuing the ticket.

Officers on duty should be applying and enforcing laws on all individuals and not dismissing those who are famous or are more well-known throughout a community. It is hoped that this officer would have issued the same citation had the coach of his favorite team committed the same infraction.

Source: Associated Press, "Officer says Clemson coach ticket led to firing," Jeffrey Collins, Sept. 27, 2012

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