A former police and detention officer is facing a misconduct charge after an investigation found she shared nearly 200 phone calls with an inmate housed at Abbeville County’s jail, according to state documents.
Shermekia Lacole Elmore, 33, of 108 Bay Court, Greenwood was arrested Nov. 19 and charged with misconduct in office.
According to an arrest warrant provided by the State Law Enforcement Division, Elmore was employed with the Laurens Police Department and earlier as a detention officer at the Abbeville Detention Center when, between about Sept. 21, 2018 and Feb. 5, she was “engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a South Carolina Department of Corrections inmate.” The warrant continues, accusing her of engaging in phone sex and receiving money from the inmate.
Elmore was first hired as a detention officer in Abbeville on May 26, 2017, and left that job Sept. 5, 2018. She was hired six days later as a Laurens police officer, and when she was terminated on Feb. 6 she had the rank of “student” and was not yet certified with the state Criminal Justice Academy, according to the CJA’s training history report for her.
In the “routine separation” form filed following Elmore’s termination from the Laurens Police Department, Chief Chrissie Cofield wrote an account of the investigations that led to SLED’s involvement.
On Jan. 28, Cofield received a call from Maj. Natalie Talbert of the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office, the document said. The Abbeville jail administrator had been monitoring telephone conversations of trustees in the jail, and while listening to one call, she recognized Elmore’s voice, as she had been a former detention officer there.
The document said Talbert pulled the call records and found about 500 total calls, and 197 completed calls between Elmore and the inmate, and the inmate’s financial records showed he sent a $600 check to a relative of Elmore’s.
Laurens police officials decided to launch an internal investigation and finished their probe on Feb. 4. The investigation found Elmore had received a $600 check from the inmate via a family member. The inmate and Elmore planned to have one of Elmore’s relatives pick up the money.
“Officer Elmore had her family member drop her off at the complex across from the facility and the family member went to the facility to retrieve the money, by meeting him on the backside of the facility,” the CJA document said.
The document goes on to say the two had phone sex multiple times and had planned to meet up on jail property. At one point, the two spoke about meeting at a furniture store across the street, and the inmate told her he could slip out of the jail through a side door.
According to SCDC records, the inmate was transferred out of Abbeville’s jail in February and has not been housed there since.
“It appears from the telephone conversations investigated that officer Elmore never actually met inmate (redacted), however she failed to advise detention center staff of a possible security breach,” the document said.
Following their investigation, Laurens police turned the case over to SLED and on Feb. 6 terminated Elmore’s employment, citing “her profound lack of judgment” and “highly unprofessional and inappropriate intimate relationship,” the CJA document said.
A message left Monday for Abbeville County Sheriff Ray Watson was not returned.