Wake Forest Police Department Comes Under Fire
Posted April 29, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
WAKE FOREST — Wake Forest Mayor George Mackie wants an investigation into the town's police department for what he believes is misconduct by officers.
Town commissioners say the grievance is only a personal disagreement between the police chief and the mayor. They also said that they will not stand behind the mayor on this issue.
The police chief says he is proud of his department, but the mayor insists it is time for the public to know about what is going on.
Wake Forest is the type of small town people move to to get away from problems like crime and corruption. However, the mayor says the crime fighters in the area may be corrupt.
"This isn't something I want to do to stir things up, but they elected me to do something, which is to be honest with them," Mackie said.
Mackie says the police department has been less than honest. He is making claims of race and age discrimination, and generally poor police management practices.
He claims officers took a new car out for a joy ride at speeds over 100 mph. He also said they mishandle evidence, for example in theGarvet Wilkerson case; Wilkerson was a young man who was shot to death in his grandmother's car.
"You don't just dismiss the fact that the child was killed and the people walk, and just say that it didn't happen because somebody messes up on the evidence," Mackie said.
"We have a very low serious crime rate in comparison to other towns," says Chief Greg Harrington with the Wake Forest Police Department. "We've had what three homicides in five years, and we just don't have a lot of the serious crime that other towns our size do. So certainly I feel like our [department] is doing a good job, and I'm proud of them."
"I don't know all of the specifics on it, but it seems surprising to me," says resident Patty Lemley. "I haven't heard that we've had problems, so it does seem very much of a surprise."
Surprised or not, the mayor says the police chief and the town manager need to be investigated by an independent investigator.
Some town council members, who often disagree with the mayor on issues, say there might be some type of political motive behind the allegations.
The mayor says he knows his fellow commissioners do not like him, and he says he will not run for re-election when his term is up in two years.