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Editorial: Mocksville should contract for police services

News flash: There are problems at the Mocksville Police Department.

All jokes aside, there really are problems at the Mocksville Police Department. Serious problems. These problems are not new. Most began long before many of the current officers were hired, but there’s a mentality inside the ranks that has no place in any type of public service job.

To put it simply, they don’t like each other and haven’t for a long time.

To put it bluntly, they act more like kids in eighth-grade cliques than sworn police officers. Same goes for the folks who support this clique or that clique. We’re all one, people. It should be about making the police department better, not getting mad because one side got their way.

There’s no simple answer.

Interim Town Manager Lynn Trivette said the board is exploring all options as it goes through the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, including options for the police department.

If one of those options is eliminating the police department and contracting with the sheriff’s department to provide police services in town, it should be looked at seriously. Very seriously.

I’m not naming names here, but many years ago, a chief began promoting people at will. He promoted who he wanted when he wanted, without consideration of training or education. And he did it often. It set the tone for resentment among officers. Subsequent chiefs didn’t help things get any better.

And when officers successfully sued the town and the then police chief and won, it seems that a lawsuit is on some of the officers’ minds more than protecting the public.

We’ve had reports of officers calling other officers names – vile names – when they received a promotion instead of them. We’ve had reports of officers – suppossedly working together – actually keeping notes to use against their partners, or to have for their own lawsuit. We’ve had report after report of inappropriate activity inside the police department. We’ve gotten emails purporting wrongdoings of officers and town officials from an obviously fictional account.

Grow up, guys.

Sarge Butters was nothing, not even the tip of the iceburg. Sarge Butters was used by groups – from both cliques – for their own cause. Sarge Butters is the lucky one. He has a loving home with no fear of being stabbed in the back. I wish the same was true for every officer at the police department. It can’t be fun going to work knowing that someone is trying to get rid of you.

It never really was about a cat. Like some of the officers, he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Officers have a tough job, and they need to know that their fellow officers have their back when needed. Hopefully, they still do and just leave the petty bickering for non-emergency times.

Mocksville is a great town full of great people. That has never changed. It’s time to put aside politics and do what’s right. None of us gets our way all of the time, so shake it off and move on.

We’re quickly getting reputation as a joke. It started with the cat and hasn’t slowed down. Mention Mocksville to someone from a neighboring county and get their reaction. They’ll likely grin and say something about the police department. What we’d like to hear is they love visiting this charming little town.

To the world, we can’t be charming with the current situation at the police department.

I hate to say it, but contracting with the sheriff’s department seems to be the best choice right now. That comes with its own problems, as the sheriff can change every four years. But for now, it’s the best choice. They can get the job done with the confidence of the people.

And maybe some day, the town can re-organize and have it’s own police department once more.

We want to be charming again.

– Mike Barnhardt