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Leland Residents Support Plan
To Form Northern Police Force
BY TERRY POPE
Some Lcland residents say they
arc willing to pay higher taxes to
support a police department in
northern Brunswick County.
About 40 people attended a meet
ing with the Lcland Town Council
last Thursday. March 5. to discuss
how the town can get police protec
tion at an affordable cost.
"We do need one," said resident
Lucille Blake. "We need one 24
hours a day."
The N.C. Institute of Government
estimates it costs approximately
$250,000 a year to staff and equip
six officers. That would allow one
on-duty officer to patrol around the
clock. Lcland's tax rate is 5 cents
per SI 00 of property valuation,
which brings in approximately
518,000 per year.
Town officials allocated S50,(XX)
for the 1991-92 fiscal year for a po
lice department, said Mayor S.L.
Doty. The town's total estimated an
nual revenue is about $280,000, in
cluding funds from the state, with
approximately $83,000 restricted for
certain uses such as street mainte
nance and sanitation
In September, the town hired a
police chief who planned to set up
an auxiliary force of officers in
training, but John McCarthy re
signed two months later. The former
New York City policeman was un
certified in North Carolina, prompt
ing criticism from some members of
the council. He had planned to work
on reccrtification while forming the
Officials from the towns of
Navassa and Bclvillc have agreed to
study a possible joint venture with
each town paying its share.
"I think it's possible that we can
cut that substantially," Bclville
Mayor Ken Mcsser said of the
$250,000 figure. "Somewhere in
there is a good common sense figure
that might work and would give us
24-hour a day coverage."
Mcsser, who is also a detective
with the Brunswick County
Sheriffs Department, said Bclville
wants to help form a police depart
ment, not because its crime rate is
close to that of Lcland's, but be
cause the community needs to pull
The Lcland community loses an
estimated $1 million in property per
year to thieves and vandals, he said.
"We know the area needs it, and
we're willing to do our share," said
Those in the audience laughed
when Doty reported the county
"Somewhere in there is a good common
sense figure that might work and would
give us 24-hour a day coverage."
? Ken Messer,
wants S100 per hour to hire sheriff's
deputies to patrol the town.
"You don't have to beg to the
county," said Messcr. "You have the
capability to go forward."
Tom Hunter, a Shalloite detective
and volunteer police chief for the
town of Sandy Creek near Maco,
said when it comes to setting up po
lice protection towns usually get
what they pay for.
"You need law enforcement in
this area," said Hunter. "If you try to
do it with one or two men, I think
you're selling yourself short. You
can't do it on a part-time basis."
A town like Sandy Creek, which
reported just three break-ins in 1990,
is a good training ground for a vol
unteer auxiliary force, said Hunter.
"You get three break-ins an hour
up licie," he added. "You don't want
a Cadillac, but you don't want an
old clunker either."
Others said they don't think
5250,000 is loo much to pay for po
"You get what you pay for," said
Mrs. Blake. "If you expect a good,
quality police deparunent, you're
going to have to pay for it."
A non-resident property owner,
V.A. Crecch Jr., suggested the
towns should contract to hire a sher
iff's deputy to patrol first before
forming a department.
"I believe that if one man was
available at night..." said Crecch,
"his presence and moving around
would be a strong deterrent to crime
in the Lcland area. At least try that
before you go the whole gamut."
Gordon Hobbs said his home has
been hit by gunfire and his niece's
home broken into.
"We need to do something," said
Hobbs. "I don't mind paying the tax
increase. If you keep on doing what
you've always done, then you're go
ing to keep on getting what you've
got. And I don't like what I've got
Three break- ins have cost resident
Jimmy Cook an estimated SI 3,000
"The sheriffs department is do
ing all they can do with what
they've got," said Cook, a former
One deputy now patrols the north
ern Brunswick County district, an
area with boundaries from Sunny
Point, to Town Creek to the Colum
bus County line, said Sheriff's Sgt.
Gene Browning. Each of the five
shifts has four road deputies and one
desk sergeant, who docsn t icavc the
office, to cover the county.
"There is a lot more crimc going
on in the Lcland area than people re
alize," said Donald Gilbert.
Sheriff John Carr Davis said he is
willing to work with the northern
towns, no matter what they decide to
do, to help improve policc protec
tion in that area.
Doty said the meeting was held to
gather input from citizcns before die
council holds a workshop, to be
scheduled later, on possibly forming
a police department.
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