Local News

DA Asks Cumberland Sheriff for Help in Spring Lake

Posted July 6, 2007

— The district attorney in Cumberland County has asked the sheriff's office to take over all violent crime investigations in the town of Spring Lake.

District Attorney Ed Grannis said Thursday the town's police force lacks training and manpower and the sheriff's office would take over felony cases by October. He said a murder case involving a child last year prompted his decision, noting the sheriff's office has handled all crimes against children in Spring Lake since April.

"I think the public has a very real expectation that serious and violent crimes ought to be investigated by confident, trained and experienced investigators," Grannis said. "I think it's hard for small police departments to accomplish that."

Neither Grannis nor Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown could be reached for comment Friday.

Spring Lake Mayor Ethel Clark acknowledged that the police department has limited resources but disagreed with any assertion that the department is inadequate. The town has only two detectives on its 20-person force, she said.

"If you got a real serious case, that could take a whole lot of background investigation. That could take a detective out of the whole force. Their offering to help is a good thing," Clark said.

She said she plans to meet with Brown next week to discuss ways to improve the department. She said she hopes the town of about 8,000 residents can hire more detectives.

"I have complete confidence in our police officers," she said.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler agreed to take on the new cases and said his office will use four full-time deputies to cover Spring Lake cases. He plans to request money from the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners to hire more deputies.

"We have about as much as we can do personnel-wise here in the sheriff's office," Butler said. "It's a strain on us, but this has to be done."

The Spring Lake Police Department will continue routine patrols and will handle traffic enforcement and minor crimes.

The sheriff also said the move isn't an indictment of the Spring Lake Police Department.

"I don't think it's saying they're incompetent because they're going to continue to do their job out there, as far as I know," he said. "When the time comes that they can take the responsibility, or the (district attorney) or the chief district court judge feels they can take care of it, we'll be glad to step aside."


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  • Jokers Wild Jul 8, 2007

    Well I hope things go well for the Spring Lake resident's with this change of responsibility. I know how hard it is for "small" departments to have the resource's, but umm, someone at the P.D. had to of made the D.A. mad. I worked for a small police department some year's back, when there were only 2 officers!! When you did have a violent crime it took the WHOLE police department, and assistance from the sheriffs office to handle the load that any major crime brings. They did not take over anything from us, but they would assist us in anyway, shape or form. Sounds like either the Sheriff or the Chief did not have some kind of mutual-aide agreement if it resulted in the D.A. making the changes??

  • -info- Jul 6, 2007

    A DA bases his eveidence and case on......police evidencethis has already been identified as a big problem) and whether the victims family is willing to pursue the case and testify among other things, I merely meant that it was honorable to admit the local police need help...maybe everyone would be happy if he had stayed quiet and things remained status quo..which is actually alot easier than being disected by the public....

  • lovecarolinagutters Jul 6, 2007

    Having once lived in Fayetteville, actually about two miles from Spring Lake. I thinks it's a very good idea. Whatever gets the job done, whatever it takes. However, from what I saw, the Cumberland County Sheriffs Department leaves alot to be desired also.

  • Glass Half Full Jul 6, 2007

    I have not and will not say anything against Sheriff Butler, don't know him, haven't and won't assume the unknown. However, our fine DA is another story. This is bound to butter his bread somehow - he's been in office HOW LONG ??? and just now sees a need to "Help" Spring Lake. Get real, there's more here than meets the eye, there always is with him.

  • MyKidRox Jul 6, 2007

    I know Moose Butler as well as DA Ed Grannis and both are fine men. Although they cannot please everyone, their hearts are always in the right place. It's a pity that some folks cannot do their jobs without others being critical and judgemental. Regardless of how well they handle any situation, they will always have to know that people will see them as failures in many instances. Kind of like being a great minister..no matter how wonderful you are, you will still fall short of the expectations that others place upon you. For all those with negative comments, imagine living a day in their shoes. I hardly think it would be pleasant.

  • Glass Half Full Jul 6, 2007

    "Honorable DA" ??????
    Are we talking about the same person who bargained a 10 year old boys life down to 15 days in jail? Is that your idea of honorable?

  • 1Moms_View Jul 6, 2007

    Rabid, Moose Butler is as big as his name indicates. He doesn't play like so many do either.

  • 3potato4 Jul 6, 2007

    Ol' Moose also tries to be very intimidating. I went once to get a permit to protest and Moose grilled me like I was a terrorist asking for the keys to the plane.

  • -info- Jul 6, 2007

    Sorry Rabid..he's as big as he sounds and dead serious!! Alot like Arizona's sheriff

  • Rabid Wolf Jul 6, 2007

    Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler. Ok, I get a mental image of some one the size of Montana. Tell me this guy looks like Woody Allen.