An entire police department in a North Carolina coastal town was suspended after the agency’s chief and a lieutenant were arrested for moonlighting while on the clock.
In the sleepy little town of Southport, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a city officer patrolling- every single one has been placed on paid suspension on Thursday, after SPD Chief Gary Smith and Lieutenant M.C. Simmons were arrested for moonlighting for a truck-driving service while officially clocked in with SPD.
District Attorney Jon David told CBS17 that state and federal law enforcement agencies worked together to investigate the duo earlier this year, after law enforcement officers blew the whistle on their illicit operation.
Smith and Simmons were reportedly driving overnight for a trucking company, all while they were supposed to be working for the city. Warrants were executed at the department, down hall and even the trucking company.
As of Thursday, the pair have been charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, willful failure to discharge duties, and obstruction of justice.
“It is indeed that I get before you today with a heart laden with grief for all these events that happened today,” said Mayor Jerry Dove after the arrests were made. “It was a shock to me to hear all these, being a former chief and knowing the officers that worked in that department and hired at least half of them.”
District Attorney David said the city has handed the mantle of responsibility for the town’s safety over to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, who will assume all law enforcement duties for the city’s 3,600+ residents until told otherwise.
“We will be relying on (the sheriff’s office) substantially on the road ahead to step into the void and provide a police presence,” David said. “The sheriff’s office already has overlapping jurisdiction with Southport. It’s not new that they would be patrolling these streets. They know the lay of the land and I’m very confident that citizens will be well protected.”
David also mentioned that many of the officers currently on suspension are innocent, and should not be looked down upon for the actions of a few.
“A lot of these officers have done absolutely nothing wrong. Some of them are the ones that first came forward,” David said. “This stain should not be extended to the officers who take seriously their duty to serve and protect.”
The investigation is ongoing.
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