Oakboro citizens ask town council for more police officers

At Monday’s meeting of the Oakboro Town Council, several members of the community spoke about the town needing more police officers during a public comments session.

Betsy Heath, who along with her husband, David, own the Variety Pickup convenience store at 107 N. Main St., said “they do as good of a job as possible with no backup.”

She noted the night shift in town past midnight only has one officer on duty.

“If there are multiple calls in different areas of town, including our satellite (annexations), a decision will be made as to which call they should take first,” Heath said.

In two recent traffic stops, multiple outside agencies came in support of Oakboro’s officer on duty late at night, she said.

David echoed his wife’s public comments to the board.

“It’s a horrible time for businesses who open around 5 to 6 a.m.”

Often, he noted, one individual is opening that business in the early morning hours.

“It’s a matter of serving the constituents.”

Charles Walters, who lives on East Third Street, said “what we need is better communications devices between one another, more equipment for the cops.”

He mentioned more money for upkeep and repair on the police vehicles which are used every day. Walters said events like the Fourth of July celebration and Charlotte Pipe coming to town show the need for more officers.

Debra Cain said if the council does not hire more officers she will “hit every door in town and get signatures that our police force needs more police officers.”

“You’re putting citizens at risk with an understaffed police department,” Cain said.

Oakboro Police Chief T.J. Smith and Councilman Chris Huneycutt, who serves as the town’s police commissioner, declined to comment.

The town has eight full-time and four part-time police officers.

During the meeting, Huneycutt said he appreciated the comments in open forum regarding the police department.

“It is my concern and my prayer to work with this board to come up with a resolution to fit all of our needs,” Huneycutt said in the meeting.