Oakboro citizen expresses concern regarding police department, festival

A citizen expressed concerns about police coverage and the upcoming Fourth of July celebration at last week’s meeting of the Oakboro Town Commission.

Betsy Heath, who owns the Oakboro Variety convenience store along with her husband, David, spoke to the commission during the open forum part of the meeting.

Heath said she was “concerned about the state of our police department. We had it good for several years. I’m not sure about it now. I don’t have a good feeling about it.”

The business owner said she was anxious.

“For the first time in 44 years, I’m considering being closed at night. I’m concerned about the safety of my employees and myself.”

According to Town Administrator Georgia Harvey, Oakboro PD has seven full-time officers and one part-time officer.

When asked about shifts being filled with officers from the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, Harvey said via email that one to two day shifts and one to two night shifts daily are filled by Stanly deputies.

“As with any police department, schedules need to be covered for officers to attend training, vacations, court, etc.,” Harvey said in the email.

Harvey said full staff for the town would be eight to 10 full-time officers, noting the town hired a part-time officer in May who moved to full-time this month. She also said applications and interviews for the remaining open positions “are continuing to be processed.”

Oakboro Police Chief T.J. Smith, at the town commission meeting, addressed Heath’s concerns about the upcoming festivals.

“We have committals from all the surrounding police departments,” Smith said. He noted Albemarle planned to send two officers per night, and four local probation officers also planned to attend.

Smith said the festival board will also pay for off-duty officers to work the festival.

“We will have over 20 officers working any given night,” Smith said.

The festival opens Friday night.