Editorial: Personnel Matter: Carolina Beach Police Chief

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 22 April 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Last week the Town of Carolina Beach suspended Police Chief Ken Hinkle. Town Manager Michael Cramer called it a "Non disciplinary suspension with pay" pending an investigation. We were first to break the story Wednesday April 15th, because anonymous sources had indicated some internal activity was about to occur that day.
The story remains short with few details because of requirements spelled out in State Law. In particular GS 160A-168 concerning personnel privacy. That law governs what Town officials and elected leaders can release to the public. There is one section that permits release of personnel information only if it, "... is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services or to maintaining the level and quality of city services." At this early point in the story the Town Manager is only permitted to say the chief has been suspended with pay pending an investigation. At this point there simply isn't any additional information to report other than a source that says the Town Attorney selected an investigator to conduct the investigation and interviews with personnel were conducted between Thursday and Monday. Evidently the investigation is moving forward quickly. The Carolina Beach Town Council should meet to discuss releasing as much information as they can to the public based on the allowance of state law in order to maintain public confidence in the administration of the police department.
This not to say the Council is hiding anything, it's a complicated process, but eventually the public will need to be able to consider some details of why the police chief was suspended. Why there was an investigation. And depending on the outcome, why a particular decision will be made. Otherwise, the public will be suspicious and rampant imagination will fill in the void with speculation. And that's not fair to anyone involved.
When the investigation is complete, the public should get the facts of the story.

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