After a months-long investigation, the FBI and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has decided to suspend all police operations in Southport, North Carolina.
According to investigative reports, the FBI was alerted to suspicions that both the police chief and a lieutenant were claiming to be doing police work while they were actually driving around trucks for another company. While looking into these claims, authorities found evidence that both Lt. Mike Simons and Police Chief Gary Smith were in fact reporting for overnight shifts at a trucking company when they were simultaneously listed as working for the police department. Their duties at the trucking company often required them to travel out of town, so it was impossible for them to be performing police duties at the same time.
Both suspects were taken into police custody on July 26, and they are facing charges of public corruption, failure to discharge duties, obstruction of justice and a conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses. They have been suspended from police duty. The Southport Police Department’s website confirms that there were only about eight total officers and staff working for the facility previously, so their numbers were dramatically reduced by the arrests of Simmons and Smith.
The District Attorney confirmed that some of the remaining officers were whistleblowers who had reported the illegality of the Department’s actions. Despite the remaining honest officers, the entire police force was immediately placed on paid administrative leave. Mayor Jerry Dove has decided to give the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office authority over all the former department’s duties until further notice.