by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
According to a recent report at Star News Online, the department will remain on leave while investigations of misconduct by two if its officers continue:
Lt. Michael Christian Simmons, 48, appeared in Brunswick County court Tuesday morning, informing a judge he intended to hire his own attorney. Simmons and Police Chief Gary Lee Smith, 46, are each charged with one count of felony conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses, one count of misdemeanor willfully failing to discharge duties, and one count of misdemeanor obstruction of justice. …
The charges stem from Smith and Simmons allegedly working at a trucking company when they were supposed to be on duty and pulling a paycheck from the city. Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David announced the charges last week, the culmination of a more than three-month investigation. …
With the investigation ongoing, the entire Southport Police Department is on paid leave, Mayor Jerry Dove announced last week.
To fill the gap, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up patrols within Southport city limits. Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Emily Flax said two deputies from the office’s special operations division have been assigned to Southport full-time for the indefinite future. In addition, a bike patrol will occasionally be in the city.