State News

Spring Lake scrambles to close holes in police protection

Posted July 1, 2009 12:10 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2009 7:28 p.m. EDT

— There was less of a law enforcement presence in Spring Lake Wednesday. Sheriff's deputies, who had been assigned to the town since early May, pulled back their patrols effective July 1.

The town Board of Aldermen voted Monday not to fund the deputies and instead to pay the town's police force.

The problem is, that force is not allowed to investigate crimes or respond to 911 calls. District Court Judge Beth Keever stripped the department of its police powers May 6, following the arrests of two supervising officers on corruption charges.

Keever ordered that the department complete a thorough evaluation of all employees before she will consider restoring policing powers. "I think she just wants a clean bill of health," Jarvies said.

“She wants to be able to feel comfortable that the judges in her courtroom can put any officer that we put out there on the street on their witness stand and know that they’re credible.”

He said it could be 90 to 120 days before evaluations are complete and he’s ready to make a case to put officers back on the street: “It’s not gonna happen quickly, at least I wouldn’t allow it to happen quickly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 11 Spring Lake officers have been undergoing training.

"We have some officers looking for employment elsewhere," Jarvies said. "I can't blame them for that. They're eager to get back to work."

The town of 9,000 residents is not completely devoid of police protection. The sheriff's office will have two deputies per shift patrolling a zone that includes Spring Lake, but it will no longer have four deputies devoted exclusively to the town.

Gregg Jarvies, who was hired as interim police chief to clean up the Spring Lake department, said he has been in touch with the Highway Patrol about providing manpower to the town.

Jarvies also said Mayor Ethel Clark is working on a modified arrangement with Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler to get the deputies back.