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Spring Lake police department could clean house

Posted June 15, 2009

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— Spring Lake Interim Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said Monday that the town's troubled police department could terminate and start over next year.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office assumed control of law enforcement in Spring Lake on May 6, following the arrests of Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. and Sgt. Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr. on a variety of charges. Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown resigned shortly thereafter.

Jarvies said the town cannot afford to continue paying the sheriff's office and its remaining officers, so 11 police employees could be laid off within the coming weeks, according to a proposal submitted to the Town Board Monday afternoon. Other employees would be transferred to jobs within the sheriff’s office.

Jarvies said he made the recommendation after a judge told him the only way the department would regain its power is to start over.

"It hit them (the officers) hard. You can imagine telling someone that we are going to recommend that your job is going to be gone in two weeks, (and) now you can go home and tell your family that you don't have an income,” Jarvies said.

Spring Lake officers could face lay off Spring Lake officers could face layoffs

“I’m very sad on a personal level for the families of the police officers that really didn't have anything to do with this,” said Jackie Jackson, with Citizens on the Move.

Jackson said she founded Citizens on the Move in response to concerns of corruption within the police department. She said city leaders did not act fast enough to complaints.

“While we are in the process of restructuring our police department, we need to think about restructuring our leadership as well,” she said.

Sheriff's deputies would also continue to provide law enforcement for the town while the police department is restructured under the proposal. That could cost the city as much as $90,000 a month, Jarvies said.

Officers with better training would be hired by February and would eventually take back policing the town from the sheriff's department, Jarvies said.

More on police probe

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 allegedly stole that money from the police department's evidence room and tried to cover it up, according to an indictment.

Brown resigned the following day, and reports that he and another officer were shredding files in the department prompted a judge to order the State Bureau of Investigation to take control of all Spring Lake Police Department files.

Cumberland County District Attorney Ed 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.

Spring Lake officials had named Sgt. Mack Utley III as acting police chief before turning to Jarvies.

Jarvies spent 32 years with the Chapel Hill Police Department, including seven as chief. He also has been a consultant for the Illinois State Police and a guest lecturer at North Carolina State University.

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  • gandalla Jun 16, 2009

    wa4mjf,
    the officers that blew the whistle should stay the others need to be fired

  • Glass Half Full Jun 16, 2009

    A tough decision but one that had to be made. If the out-of-work officers were properly trained and clean they can find jobs within other neighboring forces.

  • RonnieR Jun 16, 2009

    Actually, according to news reports some did tip off the NCSBI, after receiving no satisfaction by going through the chain of command.

  • gandalla Jun 16, 2009

    I think this the best news to come of the Spring Lake PD since news came that they were being stripped of all police powers. While I am sure not all the officers there were involved in illegal activites. The department is so small that they must have known what was going on and said nothing. Well guess what that makes those officers just as bad as the ones that were actually doing the crimes. Get rid of them all and start fresh

  • johnsod27330 Jun 16, 2009

    It is to bad that because of the mismanagement of the town mayor and the former police chief the remaining officers will be without jobs. The mayor should set the example and her and the town manager resign. The officers should be retained and the department retrained if needed.

  • Panther Jun 16, 2009

    I’m sure that there are some honest officers in the department. I will not judge the whole department on a few greedy slim buckets. I question why the mayor did nothing about this before now. As in any small town I am sure that she knew something was amuck. If she didn’t then she doesn’t need to be in office. Find someone who really has the town at his/hers best interest.

  • RonnieR Jun 15, 2009

    Why are they paying Moose? They pay county taxes, too. He'd better not get rid of all of them, being a small town there are probably a lot of duties that the officers do that don't involve arreesting anyone. Delivering the agendas to the coucil persons, providing security for town bank deposits,
    etc. I'm sure the Deputies have their hands full doing the law enforcemnt. I think Moose said he was assigning 4 deputies to work SL. That is one per shift and one off.