NORTHWEST, N.C. (WECT) – The City of Northwest held a meeting Tuesday evening to determine the future of its police department and, after discussion, decided to postpone the decision pending a public hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, September 7 at 6 p.m.
Council members were considering putting law enforcement responsibilities into the hands of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and getting rid of the Northwest Police Department.
Council sat on the front steps of city hall listening to nearly two hours of comments from the public. Over 50 people showed up and many voiced why the city should not dissolve its three-person police department.
Mayor James Knox said ahead of the meeting that two councilmen talked to the county about the situation and that it was unauthorized. Their reasoning was based on personnel matters and a need for 24-hour coverage. Knox believes those council members hadn’t taken every concern into consideration.
“I don’t even think they have an exit plan or a package plan to even offer these guys to go and tell them they are no longer employed — yes, it is going to affect them,” said Knox. “ [It will] affect their families and their plans that they have in the future here too because they came here [thinking] that they were going to have a future here with the Northwest Police Department.”
Several members of council also mentioned they were not aware of Tuesday night’s vote until the day of.
Citizens felt as though they got their point across speaking with council.
“I think we made progress,” said Northwest resident Jeanne Rhein. “I think a lot of what was going on was underhanded. They kept saying they hadn’t met yet, they haven’t discussed yet. But, Brunswick County has made them an offer, so somebody has discussed something. They just haven’t done it with the citizens, they haven’t done it with us. But now that we know, we will definitely be here at the next meeting.”
WECT reached out to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and has not yet heard back.
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