CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) - The Town of Carolina Beach has lost a significant number of officers who are now switching forces and heading to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
Lt. Jerry Brewer, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said seven officers have joined on as deputies in the last year with four starting at the end of February. However, Holly Brooks, director of Human Resources with the town of Carolina Beach, would not confirm that number.
In an email Thursday, Brooks stated, “In the past two months’ time, one sworn officer has separated from the Town of Carolina Beach Police Department. Officer Samantha Macon resigned effective December 12, 2018.”
Brooks went on to say, "The Town of Carolina Beach has 35 active employees in the police department. Of these 35, 33 are sworn law enforcement officers, and two are non-sworn administrative staff. A list of each employee in the department showing individual name and job title is included in this communication.
A Facebook post made by Carolina Beach Elementary School also noted they were losing Student Resource Officer Corporal Henderson in one week as he also is heading to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
The post reads in part, “Our school is losing one terrific guy next week, as Officer Henderson has taken a job with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department. So many of our students, parents and staff members have been lucky to share the building with this guy over the past few years.”
Brooks would not confirm Henderson was departing the force, citing privacy laws, however, County Manager Chris Coudriet confirmed in an email sent to county commissioners on Friday that Henderson would be leaving next week. Coudriet also said the town and the sheriff’s office has a plan in place to provide an SRO to Carolina Beach Elementary School.
“[Sheriff Ed McMahon] has already had discussions with [Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin], and he has agreed to place CBES into the SRO rotation for the schools in the southern region of the county,” Coudriet wrote. “The county and the sheriff will ensure an SRO presence every day at CBES. The model of rotational patrols is what the sheriff’s office has in place for every elementary school.”
Coudriet added that it was his understanding that the Carolina Beach Town Council will determine during its budget process if it intends to fund an SRO at the elementary. If not, the sheriff’s office is prepared to maintain the rotational patrols.
“The takeaway is that Sheriff McMahon has a plan short term and long term to provide SRO support to CBES,” Coudriet wrote.
Brooks went on to state in an email that the town has three vacancies for police officers. The starting salary for the position is $37,274.
Brooks added, “The Town continues to maintain appropriate staffing levels for all areas of police work. Each Uniformed Patrol Division shift is staffed with four Sworn Law Enforcement Officers. The Town does not anticipate any changes to shift staffing levels.”
Mayor Joe Benson in an interview Friday said he doesn’t believe the turnover is a result of leadership issues.
“Absolutely not a toxic leadership issue,” Benson said. “Officers, when they go to the county, are taking a pay cut.”
Benson believes the issue is likely due to a lack of opportunities for career advancement.
“You have a small police force, small department. There are only so many opportunities to climb the ladder,” he said.
Benson added that town council will look into reorganizing the department to a find a way to build the department to keep officers around longer.