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Judge: Spring Lake Police Can't Handle Homicides

Posted July 17, 2007

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— A Cumberland County judge has short-circuited attempts by Spring Lake officials to have local police investigate murders in the town.

Chief District Judge Beth Keever issued a memo Monday to Cumberland County magistrates, saying Spring Lake officers "are not authorized to request the issuance of felony homicide warrants." Keever said the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is in charge of all homicide investigations in Spring Lake.

Two weeks ago, District Attorney Ed Grannis asked the sheriff's office to assume control of all felony investigations in Spring Lake by Oct. 1. He maintained that the Spring Lake Police Department lacked the manpower and the training to investigate such cases.

Spring Lake officials said they plan on joint investigations of felonies between local police and the Cumberland County deputies. Those statements prompted Grannis to ask for Keever's intervention.

Jimmy Henly Jr., a 14-year veteran of the Spring Lake police force, said the move should have occurred years ago.

"If you're a victim of crime (in Spring Lake), you're at risk of not being protected," said Henley, who was a patrol and tactical team commander, a narcotics detective, chief of detectives and interim assistant police chief in the department before leaving in 2002.

"They started cutting back on what they considered luxuries and we considered necessities as far as investigating officers and the training that goes with it," he said.

Henley said that, when he left the department, he told county officials that the sheriff's department should take over investigations in Spring Lake.

Spring Lake officials declined to comment Tuesday about the dispute.

But John Jackson, the town's attorney, said he plans to meet with the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen next Monday to discuss the town's legal options.

"Because we're in the county, (the sheriff's) deputies have every right to enforce the law within the municipal boundaries," Jackson said. "What we're talking about here is an exclusion -- to say the town of Spring Lake cannot do things."


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  • LibertarianTechie Jul 19, 2007

    CJjunkie, you are correct. I am glad I only work in the town of Spring Lake.

  • christinathefern Jul 19, 2007

    I deal with this department and know people who were in this department. It needs a serous overhaul. btw, by ordering magistrates not issue felony homicide warrants to spring lake police officers means that spring lake HAS to call the sheriff's dept. to get that warrant. However, it does NOT prevent the department from picking up someone and holding them until a deputy is available....nor does it prevent them from charging someone with other, lesser, crimes (that are usually associated with homicides) until a deputy/detective gets there...anyhow, I think spring lake has to take all their bad guys over to cumberland county to appear before the magistrate and the sheriff's department is right next door...

  • djofraleigh Jul 18, 2007

    Andy and Barney never handled homicides either.

  • Jokers Wild II Jul 18, 2007

    tbajr -at- aol -dot- com - What makes you think money is made anywhere by the arrest? Granted we can confiscate the money from a drug dealer, but that money is taxed, and whatever percentage it is, is then placed into a account that the department can use to purchase items to fight the "war on drugs". Its not like we can go out and buy anything we want with the money. I think the whole thing here is the Judge and D.A. do not want the Spring Lake police investigating violent crimes. I would love to hear about the death of the child, and how this whole thing ever came around to be! Departments do not just get restrictions put on them for nothing. Must be some serious mishandling of cases?

  • tbajr Jul 18, 2007

    They can investigate drugs, but not murders..must be more money
    to be made with drugs. "To protect and serve"

  • Centurian Jul 18, 2007

    While a District Court Judge CAN direct Magistrates, they have NO AUTHORITY to tell the SLPD what crimes they will or will not investigate. Police authority is defined in the statutes.

    This whole drama smells of politics, especially the comments by the disgruntled former interim chief who seems to have quit when he wasn't named police chief.

    Citizens loose in this deal. Instead of all the politics, why can't the DA spell out to SLPD exactly what the problem may be and let local officials implement a plan to fix any problems?

  • DEPUTY Jul 18, 2007


  • sixpointedbadge Jul 18, 2007

    The crime rate for Spring Lack is 709 and the national average is 325. Although they only had one murder in 2004 the rate is two times the US average.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Jul 18, 2007

    Just curious, how many murders has Spring Lake had in the past ten years?

  • emory24 Jul 18, 2007

    Spring Lake is part of Cumberland County..........let the sheriff's handle it and get Spring Lake trained and give them manpower.