Entire Police Force Suspended After Chief Charged With Corruption
By Will Doran
The police chief in a small Eastern North Carolina town was arrested Thursday, along with one of his lieutenants, and charged with corruption and other crimes, according to multiple news reports.
Southport Police Chief Gary Lee Smith and Lt. Michael Simmons were both charged with obtaining property by false pretense, according to Wilmington television station WWAY. Smith was also charged with obstruction of justice and willful failure to discharge the duties of his office, WWAY reported.
According to WRAL, Smith and Simmons were accused of working for a trucking and shipping company at the same time they were supposed to be working in their jobs leading the local police force, sometimes leaving the city or even the state while on the clock for the city police.
The entire police force has been put on leave because of the allegations against its top leaders, according to Wilmington TV station WECT, and the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office is taking over the police department's duties.
WECT also reported that Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David said the investigation into the police chief and lieutenant began when local police officers began filing complaints.
Southport is home to about 3,600 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It's about 28 miles south of Wilmington.
(c)2018 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)