Thunderbolt town council fires police chief in latest shake-up - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Thunderbolt town council fires police chief in latest shake-up

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Irene Pennington Irene Pennington

The town of Thunderbolt is in the state of turmoil.

The chief of police and the town administrator have both been ousted in the last seven days.

Chief Irene Pennington was terminated Wednesday night amid controversy. The now former chief is a legend in the Savannah area as the only woman to captain or major in the former Chatham County Police Department. She was named Thunderbolt police chief in June 2005.

When WTOC spoke to Pennington Thursday afternoon, you could hear in her voice obvious disappointment. She wouldn't comment, only saying council voted to terminate her, but said she would speak eventually, just not right now.

Thunderbolt Mayor Anna Maria Thomas told WTOC she was one of three council members against the decision, but was outvoted 4-3.

Four council members, Thomas said, felt Pennington was not living up to her duties, for example, acting fast enough when it came to a dog attack involving a child recently in Thunderbolt.

Captain Bud Pierce is acting chief right now and will run the police department. This comes just six days after town administrator Linton Smith volunteered his resignation after threats of being fired.

More than a month ago, Thunderbolt Fire Chief Michael Godbold was asked to resign, Thomas told WTOC. He did so, citing medical reasons. The fire chief is a volunteer position. In the meantime, the paid firefighters are running the department. 

As for the town administrator position, it falls on the mayor. However, it won't be for long. A new town administrator has been hired and will start in May.

Pennington says rumors of retirement are false. She says she is not retiring.

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