Local News

Garner eyes early end to rescue squad contract

Posted September 9, 2010 3:38 p.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2010 10:57 p.m. EDT

The Garner Rescue Squad faces a sexual assault investigation and lacks a leader following the resignation of its chief.

— With the Garner Rescue Squad facing a sexual assault investigation and lacking a leader, town officials said Thursday that they might end their contract with the agency.

The squad, which operates as a nonprofit agency, provides search and rescue services and non-emergency ambulance services under a one-year, $280,000 contract with the town. The Garner Fire Department is scheduled to take over those duties next July.

Wake County EMS began providing emergency medical services in Garner in May because of the nonprofit's mounting financial difficulties.

Mayor Ronnie Williams said he and a majority of Town Council members want to end the contract with Garner Rescue as early as January because of the agency's troubles.

Rescue Squad Chief Bill Frederick resigned Tuesday, six days after a squad employee allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in the former Garner EMS & Rescue Squad office on Seventh Avenue.

Frederick, who has been unavailable for comment, told his board chairman that he was stepping down for personal reasons.

In 1996, Frederick resigned from the Sanford Police Department amid allegations that he traded leniency on criminal charges for sexual favors. He was later convicted of attempted obstruction of justice and was placed on probation.

Williams questioned how Frederick became chief with his history.

"Why did it get this far – stay 12 years and move into a leadership position in charge of money and in charge of people?" he asked.

It's unclear who hired Frederick, but Phil Penny was chairman of the Garner EMS & Rescue Squad board when Frederick was promoted to chief.

Penny declined to comment Thursday when asked if he knew about Frederick's previous conviction and the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Sanford Police Department.

Williams said the rescue squad wants to retain its contract with Garner, but he said recent developments might give the town the upper hand in negotiating a buyout.

"Leverage might be a good word," he said.

No criminal charges have been filed in the alleged sexual assault, and no other Garner Rescue employees have resigned or been fired in the case.