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Spring Lake police chief resigns; SBI seizes records

Posted May 6, 2009
Updated May 7, 2009

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— Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown resigned Wednesday evening after witnesses reported seeing him and an officer shredding files, according to Spring Lake Alderman Napoleon Hogans.

Police chief resigns amid probe

Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson on Wednesday ordered the State Bureau of Investigation to take control of all police files, including computer and cell phone records.

The order cited a report that Brown was seen shredding documents in the department until 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and that a Cumberland County deputy saw police Sgt. Mark Thomas shredding files on Tuesday.

Brown became chief in 2004 and had been with the department since the 1990s.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office assumed control of law enforcement in Spring Lake on Monday, following the arrests of two officers on a variety of charges. Four deputies patrol the town on each shift, and a mobile command post has been set up at the Spring Lake Library.

Earlier Wednesday, Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler warned the Spring Lake Police Department not to interfere with law enforcement efforts in the town.

Because more than 20 officers in the police department remain on the job, Butler sent Brown a letter, before he resigned, outlining how he plans to enforce the law in Spring Lake. It doesn't include help from police officers in town.

"Members of the Spring Lake Police Department shall not be allowed to participate in any criminal investigation conducted by the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office," Butler wrote in the letter. "The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office shall not adopt or accept any future criminal investigations initiated or conducted by the Spring Lake Police Department until further written notice."

Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. and Sgt. Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr. were arrested Monday. Coulter was being held Wednesday at Central Prison in Raleigh, and Whittington has been released on a $100,000 bond.

Indictments allege that Coulter participated in an April 2008 home invasion in which three men were held at gunpoint and that he asked subordinate officers to falsify a report about a September raid on a motel room in which $2,900 was seized. Whittington was accused of stealing that money from the police department's evidence room and trying to cover it up.

Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis asked the SBI to look into the Spring Lake Police Department two years ago, saying he had concerns about the department's ability to investigate crimes.

At Grannis' urging, a judge two years ago stripped Spring Lake of the authority to handle felony investigations, following a botched homicide investigation involving a 3-year-old. Those cases were put in the hands of sheriff's investigators.

Grannis has dismissed all pending misdemeanor cases in Spring Lake, saying that he suspects senior officers of lying and directing other officers to fabricate facts in police reports.

26 Comments

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  • Professor May 7, 2009

    other officers didnt know what was going on.

    She was probably involved too, and is not trying hard to cover her and her husband's track. Prove it otherwise. lol

  • Professor May 7, 2009

    I am married to a spring lake officer

    Whats love got to do with it?

  • Professor May 7, 2009

    There are still a few good men.
    nicolegreene

    Sure, but your loving husband may not be one of them. Have your husband investigated to be sure. :)

  • Professor May 7, 2009

    I am married to a spring lake officer and in his defense and alot of the other officers they were not involved. My husband fortunately was not on either one of those supervisors squad. so people really shouldn't pass judgement upon others. There are still a few good men.
    nicolegreene

    Are you really sure about that sweetie? You are not with him on his job so you really do not know for sure. Allow all evidence to speak for itself. Love is something, right?

  • nicolegreene May 7, 2009

    I am married to a spring lake officer and in his defense and alot of the other officers they were not involved. My husband fortunately was not on either one of those supervisors squad. so people really shouldn't pass judgement upon others. There are still a few good men.

  • RonnieR May 7, 2009

    I don't know, but it is possible that there are good officers there and they have been helping the NCSBI.

  • oldfirehorse May 7, 2009

    "It's a shame that the only thing about the spring Lkae pd people are focusing on is the bad seeds." /endquote ------- Ok, I'll help out with that. I'm sure there are some good officers in that department. Having said that, and having served in a small law enforcement department years ago, I can tell you from experience, it would be really hard for all that to be going on and most, if not all, in the department to not be aware of it. Complacency is criminal too. In addition, unfortunately perhaps for a few, in law enforcement there is no room for criminal behavior; public perception is reality.

  • gandalla May 7, 2009

    nicolegreene,
    that department only has 20 officers and if you ever been there and inside the office you will know how small it is. I find it really hard to believe that the other officers didnt know what was going on. And if they did know they said nothing, which makes them as bad as the officers actually committing the crimes. If you heard the Sheriffs comments yesterday he said more arrest are coming. I'm sure by the time its all said and done you will have least 10 more officers brought up on charges.

  • nicolegreene May 7, 2009

    It's a shame that the only thing about the spring Lkae pd people are focusing on is the bad seeds. There are still good Officers there and noone is acknowledging that not ALL of Them are bad.. I pray that the town keeps the good officers and hires a new chief to straighten out everything. Because its unfortunate that the rest of the officers have to pay for a few bad men.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 7, 2009

    coolwill, not too cool with those comments. When you said the word ALL, I immediately wrote off your comments. I know there are only a few bad apples in any group. People say it only takes a few bad apples to make them all look bad. That is true if you are too lazy to look at the facts, and just make general sweeping statements.

    So the Police Chief resigned, and a few of them were caught shredding documents in the middle of an investigation. Anyone now question that serious problems DO exist in the Spring Lake Police Department? Since the Mayor was so quick to back the Chief, the Mayor should be the next to resign. No way he can oversee a new police force after this debacle.

    By the way WRAL, how about a picture of the Police Chief and the Mayor? If you put up pictures of the bad cops, might as well include the bad Police Chief and bad Mayor.

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