Deputy in bikini, OK; sudsed-up patrol car, not OK

MONCKS CORNER -- A few Facebook pictures of bikini-clad women sudsing up a squad car are lathering up quite a controversy and have cost one cop his job and brought scrutiny on another.

A Berkeley County sheriff's deputy who was among a handful of the women photographed next to a Moncks Corner police patrol car will not be disciplined for participating in a bikini car wash on her own time, the Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday.

The decision was made a day after Moncks Corner Police Chief Chad Caldwell said a police officer was out of a job for allowing the patrol car to be photographed with women in bikinis at the Rockstar Tattoo Studio on Redbank Road on Sunday. The car wash was a charity event.

The photographs came to light when they were posted on various Facebook pages.

After receiving an anonymous complaint, the Sheriff's Office determined that the deputy, whose name has not been released, was not on duty and did not use or display sheriff's resources during the event.

"She was involved in the event as a private citizen and did not violate the law, BCSO or county's policies," a Sheriff's Office statement said.

Caldwell said the officer's decision to take his take-home cruiser to the event violated department policies governing their use.

"It reflects badly not only on the police department," Caldwell said. "It reflects badly on the town."

Caldwell declined to identify the officer, but officials with the department said Wednesday that the name would be released later in the afternoon. Calls later to the department were not returned.

Caldwell also declined to say if the officer was fired or asked to resign, saying that it was a personnel matter and he was forbidden by law from discussing it.

Caldwell did acknowledge that the officer was no longer with the department.

"I think he took his personal car there first and then he went in his police car," Caldwell said. "I don't think he was trying to be malicious. I think he used completely poor judgment."

The car wash featured bikini-clad employees from Diamonds North night club in North Charleston, according to Rockstar Studio's Facebook page.

Josh Badgett, owner of the studio, said Wednesday that only one of the women was a dancer. He said the others included a bartender, his wife and other regular clients of the tattoo parlor. He said the deputy and the officer are regular clients.

Badgett said the purpose of the annual function is to raise money for various charities, including the Shriners Hospital. He said the reaction was excessive, considering that the women were out there for a good cause.

"The girls were washing cars. There was nothing illegal," Badgett said. "I don't understand why people are making such a big deal out of it. If Girl Scouts were out there washing cars, would there be a problem?"