State News

Spring Lake mayor declares state of emergency

Posted June 23, 2009 5:17 p.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2009 11:14 p.m. EDT

— The mayor Spring Lake declared a state of emergency Tuesday, one day after the city manager quit over his role in handling problems at the police department.

The town Board of Aldermen asked Larry Faison for his resignation after a closed meeting Monday night.

According to the proclamation, which was posted to the town Web site, the mayor declared the emergency because of the vacancy and appointed Allen Coats, the town finance director to serve as interim town manager until the next meeting of the Board of Aldermen June 29.

Alderman James O'Garra said the decision was based on Faison's handling of police department issues in the town of more than 8,000 people, The Fayetteville Observer reported Tuesday.

"I feel we've done what the citizens and town wanted to see done," O'Garra said. "I just felt that he had to go."

O'Garra said he didn't think Faison supported Mayor Ethel Clark as she dealt with the scandal and that he didn't oversee the police department.

Two senior police supervisors were indicted on embezzlement, kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges and the town police chief resigned.

Spring Lake's police department was stripped of authority in May by a Cumberland County judge and the district attorney. The department is being probed by the State Bureau of Investigation.

Board members discussed whether they could challenge the decisions made by District Attorney Ed Grannis and Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Keever. The board also is questioning why it would have to pay the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office to police the town until its police department is revived.

"I don't see anything that's forcing us to give them any money," O'Garra said.

Town Attorney John Jackson said he has been exploring the town's legal options and that there is no precedent for dealing with the situation.

The board also called a special meeting for Monday to vote on a proposal by interim police chief Greg Jarvies, who wants to fire the department's remaining officers and rebuild the department while the sheriff's deputies patrol the town.

Information from: The Fayetteville Observer