State News

Spring Lake votes in favor of local police force

Posted June 29, 2009

— Residents of Spring Lake will see a reduced law enforcement presence beginning Wednesday.

The town Board of Aldermen voted 3-1 Monday in favor of maintaining the local police department and against paying sheriff’s deputies to provide protection.

Spring Lake votes in favor of local police force Spring Lake votes in favor of local police force

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.

Since that time, the county had been providing four deputies per shift to the town, but could not do so indefinitely without compensation, Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said Thursday. Butler asked the town for a contract to continue county protection.

Former Chapel Hill police chief Gregg Jarvies, hired to stabilize the department while the town searches for a full-time replacement, had proposed that he fire the department's remaining 11 officers and rebuild the department while the sheriff's deputies patrol the town.

The board voted down that proposal, and declined to pay the $203,506 required to continue patrols by sheriff’s deputies. Starting Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies will provide “zone coverage” to the town, the equivalent of one deputy per shift.

Chief District Judge Elizabeth Keever has ordered that the department complete a thorough evaluation of all employees before she will consider restoring policing powers.

The town budget, with takes effect Wednesday, provides funds to pay the 11 remaining members of the Spring Lake force, although they are not allowed to investigate crimes or respond to 911 calls. The officers who remain on the payroll are participating in training exercises.

The aldermen said the decision was largely budget-based -- the town can not afford to pay both the $1.59 million budgeted for the police department and the $1.2 million that the sheriff’s deputies would cost.

"I feel like, at this particular time, we need to keep the officers. They need to start accepting applications for new officers to get this ball rolling," Alderman Fredricka Sutherland said.

Alderman Richard Higgins cast the dissenting vote. "We going to have to get additional coverage for the town," he said. "Right now, we can't police the town with the current police force."


The board also voted Monday to retain Allen Coats, the town finance director, to serve as interim town manager. Town Manager Larry Faison resigned last week. Alderman James O'Garra said the decision was based on Faison's handling of police department issues in the town of more than 8,000 people, The Fayetteville Observer reported.


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  • gandalla Jun 30, 2009

    All the officers that work there are garbage. Did you see the officers that have been arrested where all rejects from other more prestigous organizations. Im sure this holds true for the entire department. They shouldnt be paying them to do nothing they should make them do something if there collecting there 30k a year

  • HighRiskCO Jun 29, 2009

    I agree with Centurian 100%. Additionally, what Spring Lake will have is a high priced Security Guard in place of a Police Department. They will not have the power to investigate crime nor answer 911 calls. Spring Lake has become the laughing stock of Law Enforcement. I can see the perps laughing right in their face.

    Our wonderful political leaders are responsible for this mess and this is all they can come up with? I think it’s time the citizens voiced their opinion instead of the political cronies voicing it for them.

    I tell you one thing, as a retired LEO I would not want my good name associated with this town’s Police Department.

  • Centurian Jun 29, 2009

    The interim Chief recommended starting over! It makes sense to ask ALL officers to re-apply for positions and have a thorough background investigations including polygraphs. This is for the sake of the citizens and the officers that will eventually be patroling for the police department. Their reputation is damaged and they need to know the officers are trustworthy. Those with no background flaws will be retained and others sent packing. Any good officer would BEG for this to be done to clear their name if they planned to stay in Spring Lake!

  • 2be1ask1 Jun 29, 2009

    If they fire officers who can prove that they have done nothing wrong, they should sue the town for lots of $$$$$$$$

  • Blue Shirt Jun 29, 2009

    Keep the good Cops and fire the Mayor and Aldermen! Spring Lake is a drug infested place and has a lot of trouble where 4 Cops is not enough; Chapel Hill Road is a cesspool!

  • Suasponte Jun 29, 2009

    So they decided to pay the $1.59 million budgeted for the police department to train and provide NO law enforcement services instead of paying the $1.2 million that the sheriff’s deputies would cost to provide enhanced around the clock services with the full support of a large agency. No that's thinking with your dip stick Jimmy.

    How about a $500,000 contract for me to do nothing. You'd save a ton and be real heros.

  • RonnieR Jun 29, 2009

    Good decision. They pay conuty taxes, too, and are entitiled to the Sheriff's Patrol just as the rest of the county's citizens. Guess Moose won't get a budget supplement.

  • Jun 29, 2009

    Past crooks begging to keep current crooks on staff - wake up people, Politics is a family business, has been since 1890 and America demands CHANGE. Fire them all and hold special elections that allow all qualified applicants to participate instead of entitled participants only. Let the public vote who their leaders and security is governed by. We are at the end of a long winding downhill spiral, lets not give up now. A bright future awaits us if we appoint honesty, integrity and ethics over good-ole boys and girls who only serve themself and their friends and family.