Oakboro police chief responds to staffing concerns

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2020

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At the August meeting of the Oakboro Town Council, Police Chief T.J. Smith responded to concerns voiced by one local business owner regarding the number of officers on duty at night.

Local business owner Betsy Heath said the town’s police department has had to “come down to the last man standing” in terms of coverage at night.

She said two officers have worked their notices before leaving the force, and gave an example of the coverage when the one officer on duty was tied up at the park and was unable to cover downtown or the housing developments.

“I don’t know if y’all can help them in any way if its monetary, but I’m concerned,” Heath said.

She said with Charlotte Pipe and Foundry coming “it would be a shame if we could not say with certainty that we have a good police department, that you are going to have 24-hour coverage, which is lacking now.”

Smith said later in the meeting one officer will soon be back from medical leave. Others have been filling in on those shifts on a part-time basis, including himself.

According to Smith in a phone interview, the officer on medical leave is now back on light duty. The chief said the staff is short two full-time positions, but he has interviewed one prospective new candidate. Smith said Capt. Craig Richards is supervising the night shift rotation.

When asked by Commissioner Bud Smith about the Oakboro STEM school resource officer, Chief Smith said the officer has been working on night shifts.

Commissioner Smith later said he believed it did not make sense to use an Oakboro police officer at the school when he is needed more in town.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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