Local News

Hillsborough Board Announces Police Punishment Decision

Posted June 10, 1998

— What should be the punishment for some Hillsborough police officers accused of having sex on duty.? The town board met Wednesday to consider what should be done, but it wasn't until Thursday that they made their decision public. Some have expressed surprise at the findings.

None of the officers accused of sexual misconduct will be fired, but the officer who "blew the whistle" has resigned. An accused sergeant has been demoted to the rank of corporal, and three patrolmen will be suspended.

The board accepted one resignation Thursday from an officer who has been referred to as the whistle-blower who initiated the charges.

The town manager and police department have formally completed their investigations, but Hillsborough Mayor Horace Johnson told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthat the incident is far from over as far as he is concerned.

The board investigation concludes that no officers currently employed by the police department were involved in the public display of lewd sexual activity. There was also no proof, they say, of allegations of sex in police department headquarters. The board did say, however, it had proof of unlawful sexual activity committed by on-duty officers.

"There were other instances involving patrol vehicles, civilian vehicles, residences, and these things were done when the officers were not on break," said Hillsborough Town Manager Eric Peterson. "This is obviously not acceptable and will not be tolerated by the Hillsborough Police Department. Any findings we have of something similar to this in these instances or future instances will be dealt with severely."

"No, sir," said Mayor Johnson. "I'm not pleased with this. It will not be. This could very well become a political focus next year -- to get to the bottom of it, clean up our [police] department, and make the whole department feel that they're welcome, that they are appreciated, and that the people in Hillsborough appreciate what they do."

The resignation of the officer referred to as the whistle-blower appears to be an issue of contention for many people. The mayor and at least one officer who spoke to Roberts say the resignation was forced. Neither Peterson nor the board will comment on that issue, citing personnel policies.

There is at least one other allegation that has come up that may be investigated, but Johnson says he will take the investigation on the charges addressed by the board to another level.


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