GARLAND — Following disagreements and concerns regarding the police department’s accountability, commissioners approved new procedures for the town’s law enforcement.
For several months, complaints were made by Mayor Winifred Murphy and a couple of commissioners regarding the department led by Garland Police Chief Ron Matthews. Some of the concerns involved supervision, finances and record-keeping. After the board’s recent closed session, a decision was made by commissioners to increase accountability.
“I am thankful to the majority of the commissioners for recognizing the need for increased accountability within the police department,” Murphy said. “I will continue to work with the commissioners and the Garland Police Department for success in all departments, equitable treatment for all and the protection of resources for the citizens and the town.”
A few years ago, commissioners made a decision for the town to have its own police department after the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office requested more funding. Matthews was selected with the help of a consultant. In April, complaints were made regarding issues such as mileage, purchases and reports.
To help ease concerns, commissioners approved the following actions. Among them, the chief will:
• Begin using a purchased time clock stationed within the Garland Police Department
• Record beginning and ending car mileage using approved forms
• Submit a written police report at each meeting with a detailed description of stops
• Request professional development in witting with descriptions
• Refrain from hiring auxiliary officers until town officials interviews the candidates and check references
• Will work 8 hours per day, random hours as determined in consultation with the Garland Board of Commissioners, Safety Committee, interests and needs of the town, and town-sponsored events
Additionally, the department will respond promptly to the mayor’s emails or calls on personal phone, or the town-issued phone should be used. The Safety Committee will approve the use of compensation and overtime work.
Commissioners unanimously approved the actions, with the exception of one: “(Chief) Matthews’ effective work time will begin when he arrives at the police station and end when he leaves the police station.” This passed with a 3-1 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Smith voted against it. Commissioners S.J. Smith, Eddie Bronson Jr. and Austin Brown voted for it.
Previously, commissioners also made a suggestion that all inventory must be submitted to Town Clerk Pam Cashwell no later than Wednesday, Aug. 15; and that Garland officers will respond within the town limits of Garland, the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), or a 1-mile radius unless a written request for mutual aid is made, or in emergency situations followed up by written documentation when a verbal request is made.
Board OKs new meeting time
Garland’s town commissioners voted to change the start time of meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The change will take effect with the Sept. 4 meeting at the Garland Town Hall, 190 S. Church Ave.
The decision was made to accommodate the schedule of Attorney Alan Maynard, who requested that the meeting time begin earlier. To help accommodate Maynard’s schedule, commissioners recently changed meeting time from the second Tuesday of the month to the first Tuesday.
Maynard was selected by commissioners in June after the resignation of Attorney Michael Porter of Fayetteville.
Maynard, a law professional with 35 years of experience, is a native of Elizabethtown and graduated from East Bladen High School. He earned degrees in political science and law from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He operates Maynard Law Firm as a solo practitioner.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.