State agencies suspend funding to Columbus County Sheriff’s Office due to concerns about discrimination

State agencies suspend funding to Columbus County Sheriff's Office
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - State agencies have paused funding to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, citing concerns about racist comments made by Sheriff Jody Greene, who was suspended pending the hearing on a petition for removal.

The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program requires grant recipients to comply with federal civil rights laws; Program Director Mark Ezzell signed a letter stating that a $125,329 grant for a traffic team at the CCSO was suspended. Later in the letter, Ezzell writes that the program would consider reinstating the grant “should steps be taken to alleviate these concerns.”

“The statements and actions described in news reports and the verified petition suggest that the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office may not be in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other provisions as required in this Agreement of Conditions,” wrote Ezzell in the letter.

The N.C. Department of Public Safety also sent a letter to the sheriff’s office. The department states that they suspended their consideration of a funding request for the proposed “Project 015427.″

“Given the nature of the comments, the GCC is concerned that the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office cannot meet the expectations for compliance with State and Federal laws against non-discrimination, which are a precondition to any award,” writes N.C. DPS Executive Director Caroline Farmer in the letter.

Farmer also notes that the sheriff’s office didn’t provide the documentation required for them to consider the award. As with the GHSP letter, she concludes by saying that this may be reconsidered if steps are taken to reduce their concerns.