Former Chapel Hill chief to head Spring Lake police
Posted May 18, 2009 2:12 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2009 6:17 p.m. EDT
Spring Lake, N.C. — Town officials on Monday picked former Chapel Hill police chief Gregg Jarvies to stabilize the beleaguered Spring Lake Police Department while they search for a full-time chief.
Jarvies, who retired from the Chapel Hill Police Department in April 2007, was on the job in Spring Lake Monday afternoon, almost two weeks after Chief A.C. Brown resigned amid a state investigation of the department. His contract with the town runs through Sept. 1, but officials said it could be extended.
"We wanted to get a high-caliber individual in place as quickly as we could to help stabilize the department and begin the rebuilding," Town Manager Larry Faison said.
Cumberland County deputies assumed control of law enforcement in Spring Lake on May 6, following the arrests of two officers on a variety of charges. Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler ordered Spring Lake officers to stay away from all investigations.
"We certainly have challenges ahead," said Jarvies, who plans to commute from his Hillsborough home three or four days a week.
Indictments allege that Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. 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. Sgt. Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr. 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.
Although Spring Lake's police officers have been taken off the streets, they remain on the job. Many of them have been using up their compensatory time off in the past two weeks, Jarvies said.
"It's been unfortunate that the department has been told to stand down, but in a way, it gives, I think, everyone a chance to sit back and say what the training needs are," he said.
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.
"I know they're going through a tough time, and I thought I could take some baby steps getting the department back – bring some structure and hopefully some respect and pride back in the department," he said, noting that he also will help Spring Lake officials search for a permanent police chief.