Local News

Newton Grove Police Force Resigns

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NEWTON GROVE — Around 3:30 p.m. Monday, the Newton Grove police chief, the one full-time police officer and all the part-time police officers turned in their badges, their equipment and parked their cars, leaving this town without a police force. It is a controversy that is dividing this small town.

The officers reportedly left over a dispute with a town commissioner who was appointed to oversee the department.

The mass exodus started with former police chief John Conerly, at odds with the police commissioner he wanted removed from office. Conerly was concerned with policy changes, one of which was the amount of extra hours the officers were being asked to serve.

The commissioner wanted the officer who got off at 4 a.m. to continue to answer calls all day long and still come back to work that evening at 4:30 p.m.

"Could we call them male chauvinists?" asks Ellen Jackson.

Jackson is the police commissioner, appointed four months ago. She downplayed any problems between herself and Conerly.

"I have met with him and worked with him since December. To my knowledge, we did not have any controversy," she said.

Residents of this 600-resident town want to see police cars back on the streets sooner rather than later. Under normal circumstances, at least one Newton Grove police officer patrols the streets from 4:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. Between now and the time a new police staff is appointed, the Sampson County Sheriff's Department will be picking up the slack, along with the Highway Patrol.

While 911 calls from Newton Grove are answered in Clinton anyway, from now until things are resolved, an officer would be dispatched from elsewhere in the county -- which could mean a 30- to 40-minute delay in getting help.

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Ken Smith, Reporter
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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