The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

March 28, 2013

Princeville board flirts with rescinding police department SOP


PRINCEVILLE — PRINCEVILLE —Tarboro Police Chief Damon Williams may have saved the Town of Princeville from grief Monday when he spoke up about a resolution that could have caused the town to face "major" liabilities.

Commissioners Ann Howell, Gwen Knight and Calvin Sherrod voted to rescind the police department's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), while commissioner Isabelle Purvis-Andrews voted against it.

After the vote, Williams told the board that rescinding the SOP wasn't a good idea. Princeville Police Chief Joey Petway asked Williams to speak on behalf of the importance of having an SOP.

"I don't know what is in your SOP, but I will advise that you do not go forward without having a current SOP in-hand," Williams told the board. "You are opening up yourself to some extreme liabilities and some major liabilities. I don't know of any government agent that does not have a permanent SOP. It is not wise to operate without a SOP. If you go forward, it will sever your working relationship with our police department."

Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates, who was against the resolution, pleaded with the board and asked the commissioners to not rescind the SOP, but rather look into revising it. The board heard her plea and voted unanimously to keep the old SOP with the stipulation of revising it.

The board also approved a resolution that puts Petway on the time clock.  Effective immediately, the chief must report to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and he must punch a time clock. Any other hours will be treated as comp time. The resolution also states the chief must inform the town manager of any workshops he attends. Petway was not pleased with either of the resolutions.  

"It disturbs me that we would allow criticism to impede the mission of the police department," he told the board. "But, we will go forward. ... I came here to help move this police department forward. If you feel like I'm not doing that, I will ask you to please remove me office immediately."

On Wednesday, Sherrod said he had spoken to Petway and he has accepted his new work schedule.

Over the last three months, the oft-divided board has taken a swing. Customarily Everette-Oates, Purvis-Andrews and Sherrod have voted together against Howell and Knight. Recently, however, Sherrod's votes have swung to the opposite side.

"I'm not on anybody's side but the people," Sherrod said. "If the mayor and Isabelle bring something to the table that I believe is good for the town, I'm going to vote on it. If Ann and Gwen bring something good to the table, I will vote on it. It's about the town, not taking sides."

In an unrelated issue, the board voted 3-1 to not allow Town Attorney Chuck Watts to send correspondence to the state auditor's office. While reading the resolution, Everette-Oates did not give details of the correspondence. The issue was discussed in closed session.

Shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Howell called The Daily Southerner to give notice of an emergency board meeting called for 1 p.m. today.