Local News

Sheriff rejects Spring Lake's attempt to boost protection

Posted July 8, 2009 12:28 p.m. EDT

— Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler has told Spring Lake officials that they cannot have two deputies devoted to patrolling the town.

Butler last month offered to contract with Spring Lake for four deputies per shift, but town officials decided instead to keep the local police force on staff.

Spring Lake officers aren't allowed to investigate crimes or respond to 911 calls. A judge stripped the department of its police powers May 6, following the arrests of two supervising officers on corruption charges.

When Spring Lake rejected the contract offer, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office reduced patrols in the town to two "zone" deputies per shift. The zone deputies also patrol unincorporated areas.

Spring Lake Mayor Ethel Clark asked Butler to consider a smaller force for the town that would cost less, but the sheriff responded in a Tuesday letter that such an arrangement wouldn't be in the best interest of residents or the deputies.

"Your proposed modification of coverage is not only inadequate in response to citizen needs, but presents a clear and present danger to officer and citizen safety," he wrote.

District Judge Beth Keever ordered the Spring Lake Police Department to complete a thorough evaluation of all employees before she would consider restoring the department's policing powers.

Interim Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said it could be 90 to 120 days before evaluations are complete.