North Carolina city's police staff put on leave after chief, lieutenant arrested

The entire police force of a North Carolina coastal city was placed on paid administrative leave after the department's chief and lieutenant were arrested and charged with moonlighting as truck drivers during company time, WECT reported.

Southport police Chief Gary Smith, 46, and Lt. Michael Christian Simmons, 48, were charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, willful failure to discharge duties and obstruction of justice.

According to state investigators, Smith and Simmons were driving overnight shifts for a trucking company while claiming those hours on their daily activity reports for the Southport Police Department, WECT reported.

District Attorney Jon David said Smith and Simmons' duties for the trucking company required them to be out of town and even out of Brunswick County, the television station reported.

Smith was arrested Thursday morning and booked into the Brunswick County Detention Center under a $10,000 bond. He was released after posting bail.

Simmons was arrested Thursday afternoon, WECT reported.

"It is indeed that I get before you today with a heart laden with grief for all these events that happened today," Southport Mayor Jerry Dove said at a news conference. "It was a shock to me to hear all these, being a former chief and knowing the officers that worked in that department and hired at least half of them."

The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office will take over all law enforcement duties in the city indefinitely, Dove said.

Dove said while the entire department was put on leave, it was not a reflection of all of the officers.

"A lot of these officers have done absolutely nothing wrong. Some of them are the ones that first came forward," David told WECT. "This stain should not be extended to the officers who take seriously their duty to serve and protect."

It is not unusual for police officers to take a second job, but not while on the clock. It's a no-brainer," Pender County Sheriff's Office Capt. James Rowell told the Wilmington Star News. "You can't be anywhere near being at work here."

“You can get other jobs. Obviously, you can’t work other jobs while on duty with us,” New Hanover County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer told the newspaper. “We do absolutely have some guys who work a second job, but it’s not many.”

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