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On Friday, March 8, Port City Daily sent a public records request to Wilmington, Leland, Wrightsville Beach, Surf City and Carolina Beach police departments.
The Town of Carolina Beach was the only agency to fully comply with the request.
The request was for public information pursuant to the North Carolina Public Records Law (N.C.G.S. 132-1) as well as North Carolina General Statute 160A-168.
“For every employee of the municipal agency we request the following: Name, age, date of original employment or appointment to the service, the terms of any contract by which the employee is employed, whether written or oral, past and current, to the extent that the city has the written contract or a record of the oral contract in its possession, current position, title, current salary, date and amount of each increase or decrease in salary with that municipality, date and type of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation or other change in position classification with that municipality, date and general description of the reasons for each promotion with that municipality, date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons taken by the municipality.
“If the disciplinary action was a dismissal, a copy of the written notice of the final decision of the municipality setting forth the specific actions or omissions that are the basis of the dismissal, and the office to which the employee is currently assigned,” the request pursuant to N.C. G.S. 160A-168 stated.
Andre Mallette, part-time consultant for Carolina Beach, confirmed the request from Port City Daily on Monday, March 11, and Sara Hartman, administrative support specialist of human resources, sent an employee spreadsheet via email Thursday, March 14.
Not only did Hartman send a complete record of every officer in compliance with Port City Daily’s request, but she also furnished records for every town employee.
According to Carolina Beach records, there are 28 officers on the town’s police force and one part-time officer. During the 2012-2013 calendar year, four officers received a promotion in rank as well as a salary increase, and 25 officers received a $500 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
The report also indicated no disciplinary action was taken against police officers during the one-year period requested.
The top five highest-paid officers in the Carolina Beach Police Department are:
The Town of Surf City was the first department to comply with the request for public records, although the information (provided in a spreadsheet) did not fulfill Port City Daily’s entire public records request.
Surf City Finance Director Jane Kirk sent the records to Port City Daily on Tuesday, March 12.
Kirk sent a list of all 65 town employees, including the 18 full-time police officers and one part-time police officer. The spreadsheet provided a list each employee’s date of hire, department, title and current annual salary.
The five highest-paid officers in the Surf City Police Department are:
Halstead called Port City Daily on Monday, March 11, to ask if the news organization had received any complaints about the department. Halstead was told no citizen complaints had been received about Surf City Police, and the email was simply a request for public records.
Halstead also indicated that, by law, he could not release disciplinary actions against police officers. According to N.C.G.S. 160A-168(b)9-11, written above in this article, disciplinary actions and copies of written notice of the final decision of any disciplinary actions are public record.
Leland and Wrightsville Beach
Leland Police Department Lt. Joseph Pierce first emailed Port City Daily Saturday, March 9 – the earliest response in this request for public information. The request was forwarded to Leland’s human resources director, Christa Dee, who confirmed the request Wednesday.
Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens contacted Port City Daily on Monday, March 11, to confirm the request and to narrow down a timeline for employee information. For purposes of preparing lengthy documents, the time was restricted to one calendar year – the same time period as Carolina Beach.
But as of Friday, March 15, no information has been furnished to Port City Daily from Leland or Wrightsville Beach.
Wilmington Police Department
City of Wilmington Communications Manager Malissa Talbert spoke with Port City Daily on Tuesday, March 12, as did the police department’s public information officer, Lucy Crockett.
Records for the following officers were emailed to Port City Daily Tuesday: J.P. Fitzgerald, Kenneth Reichard, M.E. Reinhart, William Richards and Andy Lazzaro.
Since all records under N.C.G.S. 160A-168 were not furnished to the news organization, this report could not elaborate further on the reasoning behind each promotion, demotion, suspension or transfer.
A full record of all information for every Wilmington Police Department employee has not been fulfilled by the municipality.
“We are still trying to find a way to run a report (instead of printing out individual multi-page reports on each of the 250-plus officers) on the most recent status change of all PD sworn employees in response to your broader request. Unfortunately, we have tried several times, but have not yet been able to produce a report that includes all of the different components related to each individual. I hope to get some resolution on this by early next week at the latest so we can respond to your request, even if we have to provide the information in pieces,” Talbert said Thursday.