The entire police department in the small North Carolina town of Southport was placed on administrative leave after the chief and one of his lieutenants was arrested. Chief Gary Smith allegedly allowed Lieutenant Michael Christian Simmons to work as a truck driver for an unnamed trucking company while he was on duty. Authorities said that Smith also drove for the trucking company while he was supposed to be working.
The joint investigation between the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into their activities began on April 4th, following an anonymous tip. Investigators said that the two had a "habitual and repeated pattern" of driving for the trucking company while on duty. The trucking routes would take them outside of the town and in many cases outside of the county.
They were charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, willful failure to discharge duties, and obstruction of justice.
District Attorney Jon David told WECT-TV that most "of these officers have done absolutely nothing wrong."
"Some of them are the ones that first came forward," David said. "This stain should not be extended to the officers who take seriously their duty to serve and protect."
The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office will take over police duties for the town while the investigation continues.
"The sheriff's office already has overlapping jurisdiction with Southport. It's not new that they would be patrolling these streets. They know the lay of the land and I'm very confident that citizens will be well protected."
Photo: Brunswick County Sheriff's Office