GARLAND — As developments for a new police department continue, commissioners are trying to decide where the station should go.
During a recent meeting, the Garland Board of Commissioners discussed if the old Sampson County Sheriff’s Annex, near Rotary Park would be the best location. Commissioner Lee Carberry made the suggestion for safety and visibility reasons.
“If you move it up there, it’s a high visibility area and everyone coming through town will see it,” Carberry said. “If you have a spare car you can park it on the street and it deters people speeding through town. To me, it’s just feasible to have it up there.”
Carberry added that the location near U.S. 701 Highway will give more lobby space to interview and meet with residents.
“You wanted a police department back,” he said. “If you put a police department in the middle of town, it will deter the crime in the middle of town. That’s the way I look at it.”
Carberry recommended that surveillance cameras from the defunct Alcohol Beverage Control should be sent to the annex. During a recent inspection with fire officials, Carberry said the devices were still running.
Chief Ronald Matthews is currently working out of the town hall building. Carberry made a motion for a final vote to move the station, but a vote was not made. More discussion followed about certain hurdles such as the annex not having Internet and phone services. Many of the phone lines on the outside of the building were removed for the “Greatness Grows in Garland” mural.
Mayor Winifred Murphy said Sampson County deputies, previously assigned to Garland, did not need phone lines. After learning about the phone line matter, Carberry rescinded his motion and said he wanted to research costs.
During the talk, Murphy said the purpose of the building was to be a place for the community to gather. The Garland Volunteer Softball League meets there. When Sampson deputies were using the building, half of it was used. The other was a meeting place for the community.
“It was put there to be the town hall annex and visitor center,” she said. “We’re still trying to work on that.”
Matthews believes the annex would be a benefit for the town because of traffic flowing through Highway 701.
“The high visibility has been a crucial part of the decline we’ve had in town,” he said. “I’m very visible and I’m continuously moving while I’m here.”
He also pointed out that having a police car next to the annex is good to let people know there’s a law enforcement presence in the area.
Another issue for Matthews is not having a regulated place to conduct interviews related to felonies. Recording and other standards are required. There’s space in the town hall building, but foot traffic comes through his office.
According to Matthew, building audits may become a problem in the future. Even if Matthews was to move his office to the annex, it would still be an issue for future part-time employees.
A final decision for the location was not made and suggestion will be discussed in a future meeting.
Credit card incidents probed
During a recent meeting for Garland Commissioners, town officials reported that a credit card owned by the town is being used fraudulently in Samson County.
Between $500 and $600 was used at various locations and for PayPal purchases. Town Clerk Pam Cashwell said some of the charges were denied by financial officials because they did not know the cards security code. This was indication that numbers were manually keyed in for purchases.
Police Chief Ronald Matthews reported that he’s started an investigation for the case. During the meeting, he said there’s a suspect and that the investigation is ongoing.