Entire police force on paid leave after chief and lieutenant arrested

Chief Gary Smith and Lt. Michael Christian Simmons, arrested for moonlighting on duty (Image source: Brunswick County Jail)

The coastal city of Southport, North Carolina, population around 3K, is currently without a police force after some really stupid decisions by the city’s police chief and his assistant commander. Chief Gary Smith, 46, and Lt. Michael Christian Simmons, 48, were both charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, willful failure to discharge duties, and obstruction of justice.

What these two officers of the law did was take a second job as truck drivers, no big deal normally. However, according to CBS!7-News, they were hauling freight while they were on the clock as cops and apparently everyone on the tiny police force knew about the situation.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, as well as the FBI, were notified back in April 2018 about the pair. The cops had been driving overnight loads for an unnamed local trucking company for some time when it all came to an end last week. District Attorney Jon David held a press conference and announced that Smith and Simmons had been taken into custody on Thursday, July 26, 2018. Smith was booked into the Brunswick County jail and released on a $10K unsecured bond. Also, multiple search warrants were executed at city hall, residences of officials and the trucking company.

Mayor Jerry Dove stated to the media at the time, “It is indeed that I get before you today with a heart laden with grief for all these events that happened today. It was a shock to me to hear all these, being a former chief and knowing the officers that worked in that department and hired at least half of them. We will be relying on (the sheriff’s office) substantially on the road ahead to step into the void and provide a police presence. The sheriff’s office already has overlapping jurisdiction with Southport. It’s not new that they would be patrolling these streets. They know the lay of the land and I’m very confident that citizens will be well protected.”

Mayor Dove further stated that not all of the police staff should be judged because they are on paid administrative leave and that some are innocent of wrongdoing. The investigation into the Southport Police is still ongoing by the state and FBI.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Join Our Newsletter

Get the latest news from Rolling Out.