Emerald Isle, N.C.
June 10, 2018
TO THE EDITOR:
Re: News-Times, June 6, “Cape Carteret loses third officer”:
As if a mass exodus of officers couldn’t have been predicted. In fact, a vocal and rightly so town resident and staunch supporter of the police department articulated it rather well last fall. At that time, it became apparent town officials set out to silence the voice of citizens seeking a petition regarding town management as well as their voice on social media supporting the police department while simultaneously and ruthlessly terminating an excellent police chief and then decimating the entire backbone of the police department. Quite an agenda, but if only those in government had used their powers for good rather than evil.
The town manager puppeted by his mentor has learned the skillful art of deception, smoke and mirrors and deceit while attempting to make citizens believe this is all “business as usual” and not to be alarmed at their antics. For example, in his recent interview with WNCT the town manager mentioned, “These two instances [now three],” said [Zach] Steffey, “are really driven by moving up in their career, so I don’t think it’s a reflection on any sort of issues in the police department.” Three observations here: 1. No one experienced in business administration, management or operations at the most fundamental level believes that crap for a second; 2. If two of those three officers with nearly 30 years of service to the town between them were leaving for “moving up in their career” wouldn’t they have left long ago? and 3, Of course these resignations aren’t indicative of issues in the police department because the police department didn’t create this debacle.
The truth is these officers left because of extremely poor and unethical town governance generally and blamed on the police department specifically. Further, the officers lack any confidence in leadership skills, if any, in most of their elected officials and town manger to redeem the department to any sense of professionalism in the near term or foreseeable future. I know because I’ve spoken to them and believe them. They simply couldn’t talk while still employed by the town because of the vindictive nature of town officials and did not want to adversely affect their new jobs. It’s a “Catch 22” situation for them and a sad one too. The officers aren’t leaving because of anything Chief Rivera did but for everything a few of their elected and appointed officials did!
Another example of the town manger’s spin during his interview: “We’ve continued to provide 24/7 police coverage, and we’re going to continue to do that,” said Steffey. While in the more recent news article the town is counting on aid from the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office. I imagine relying on the Sheriff’s Office would likely be necessary since the town has so few officers left. Let’s examine that for a minute.
Unless the town pays for a dedicated deputy, which according to my sources isn’t going to happen, one choice is to have deputies work on their days off to support the town. There are countless public safety research articles on this approach and they’re not good. For example, the regular, or should I say the irregular shifts, of police officers is demanding, sleep depriving and in this climate extremely dangerous. You need to be at your highest alert all the time. For a variety of reasons, usually financial, an officer now chooses to work their days off to make ends meet. It’s challenging at best for an officer or deputy in this case, to have the energy and commitment a “local” officer would who works there day in and day out with regular days off. And if the motive is money the distance between the quality of service delivery provided by a local officer and one that’s not may be even greater. As an aside, a source told me one of the two tenured resigning officers offered to work part time to help matters and was turned down.
The recent news article has the town manager indicating the police department is obviously headed in a new direction while the mayor mentions, “… the department is going through an evolution …” How true. The new direction is reverse with blinders on and at full throttle while the word is not “evolution” mayor, but rather, “revolution” and he is the cause of it.
Finally, the town manager mentions residents should have faith in the town leadership. “They just need to have trust,” said Steffey, “in local government and in the hard work that we’re all doing to make sure there are no interruptions to service in the police department. That we’re continuing to be an excellent law enforcement agency.” All I got here is the “faith and trust” in most town officials’ ship has long since sailed. Meanwhile, the WNCT interview provides this, “Update: As of today, our town has accepted the resignation of another officer. Now we’ve lost three officers with our police department within two weeks.” The ship has not only sailed; it’s sinking!
The town of Cape Carteret perhaps more now than ever must be the model of “Neighborhood Watch” as you can’t depend on government officials to have your back the way your police department once had.