Taylortown Names New Police Chief, Two Officers Dismissed
Taylortown has a new chief of police, but two veteran officers lost their jobs.
Chief Schirra Johnson took the oath of office Tuesday at the September session of the town council. He told the board he needed permission to hire contract reserve officers to fill a gap created by the town’s dismissal of two policemen including the interim chief, former patrol commander Sgt. Joseph Scott.
Scott and another officer had been fired before the meeting. No specific reasons were cited by Mayor Ulysses Simpson Grant Barrett Jr. or Councilman James Thompson, who is a retired Pinehurst police officer.
Under the mayor/council town charter, Thompson serves as Taylortown’s police commissioner. He had asked Scott to serve as interim chief while the town went through the required selection process to choose a successor to former Chief Damon Williams.
Williams left to become chief of police in the town of Maxton. He was present at the meeting and said things were going well on his new job, but he had no comment to make about Scott’s dismissal.
Scott was a command sergeant major in his last post before retiring from the Army and entering law enforcement. He made news last April when he worked with two passing motorists to put out the fire in a burning car where its driver was trapped inside on N.C. 211 near the entrance to Pinewild Country Club.
That fire victim, Watson Benjamin “Ben” Thomas, survived and is still recovering, his wife Brenda Thomas said last week. She has high praise for Scott and the others.
She said Scott calmed her down, put her safely in his patrol car and went back to fight the fire until fire and medical responders arrived.
Barrett had little to say about the town’s firing two officers.
“We decided to go a different way,” was the only comment the mayor would make.
In his first report to the council, Johnson may have given some hint as to possible concerns of town leaders about police services: an increase in town loitering on Main Street as well as Walker Street.
“An aggressive enforcement act will soon start to cut down on that activity,” Johnson said. “The department is under new development, and we hope to meet all of the town’s needs ASAP. We will also plan to continue aggressively enforcing traffic law on all Taylortown streets.”
Before Williams, the town had a succession of chiefs. One sued after his dismissal. Now the new chief finds himself with an understaffed force.
“With the recent dismissal of officers, I would like to have the board’s permission to seek applications for contract reserve officers to work when needed,” Johnson said. “This will help keep up police coverage. At present we are down to three officers and depending on availability town coverage is reduced.”
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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