All police operations in Southport, N.C., have been suspended and the entire force placed on paid administrative leave after the city’s police chief and a lieutenant were arrested Thursday and charged with double-dipping at a second job while on the clock at the police department, reports WECT-TV in Wilmington. Chief Gary Smith, 46, and Lt. Michael Simmons, 48, were charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, willful failure to discharge duties, and obstruction of justice. District Attorney Jon David said a state-federal investigation began in April after law enforcement officers tipped off investigators about the pair.
State investigators said Smith and Simmons were driving overnight shifts for an unnamed local trucking company during the same hours they had claimed on daily activity reports for the Southport Police Department. David said Smith and Simmons’ duties for the trucking company routinely required them to be out of town and even out of the county. Mayor Jerry Dove said, “It was a shock to me to hear all these, being a former chief.” Dove requested the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office assume all law enforcement functions within the city until further notice. Despite the entire police force being put on administrative leave, David cautioned not to put all the officers in a negative light.” He said, “A lot of these officers have done absolutely nothing wrong. Some of them are the ones that first came forward.”