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ONLY ON 3: Sheriff's deputy says "Bladen County is a criminal's paradise"

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Sheriff's Deputy ... "Bladen County is a criminal's paradise"
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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) - After a week of turmoil Bladen County deputies still on the job tell us what's really going on inside the department. The deputies asked that we conceal their identities because they fear for their jobs and retaliation, but they say residents of Bladen County are not safe under the current administration.

Sheriff Earl Storms was supposed to bring the Bladen County Sheriff's Office together and raise morale. But since he's taken over deputies say they're ashamed to work for the department.

Storms decided not to swear in five deputies when he was sworn in last week. After he lied about the reason for his decision he called a special meeting. Deputies say at that meeting Storms told them "not to conduct vehicle stops or call the K9 unit." They say Storms said traffic stops are Highway Patrol's responsibility, but deputies say those routine traffic stops are critical in solving other crimes that have taken place throughout the county.

They say Storms also ordered all radar equipment removed from the cars, but the Sheriff's Office uses taxpayer money to train deputies how to use radar and maintain the equipment.

Since the meeting deputies we spoke with say they have not had any contact with the sheriff and that "Prentis Benston and Herman Dunn are running the department." The deputies say communication has shutdown within the department and squads don't talk to each other because they do not know who they can trust. They were told not to talk to anyone outside of the department and say Storms threatened to fire them if they did. With little communication throughout the department and officers not allowed to do their regular jobs, deputies say, "Right now Bladen County is a criminal's paradise."

The deputies say since Storms took over as sheriff, it has hurt their relationship with other law enforcement agencies and residents throughout the county.

We invite any deputy willing to talk to contact us so we can continue digging up new information.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Criminals Paradise

Just what we didn't need to tell the criminals here in Bladen, that it is a criminals paradise. Now they think they will be able to get away with anything as if they don't already. I only have one thing to say about that. They better not come to my house or I will take matters into my own hands. As of now we still have "the right to bear arms" and we are not afraid to use them. If our sheriff department is not doing their jobs maybe they all need to be replaced. You are hired and paid to protect the people. No matter who you have to answer to, you still have a job to do.

Two Things Are 4 Sure

There are two things for sure. First, Prentice Benson will be the next sheriff. Secondly, Storms is getting something out of it all. Face it, people like this get what they want... period. Short of all out war in the county and or intervention from the state, you might as well get used to it. Underhanded people learn how to work the system and get what they want.

I feel safe

I feel much safer with Mr. Storms than I would with the former state trooper who is running for sheriff. The sheriff's job is very stressful. Ask Mr. Ward why he didn't make a career with the Highway Patrol. Ask him under what circumstances he left the Patrol. Inquire of him the number of altercations he had during his short time with the state and the investigation results.

I like Ward. He is a very friendly guy but can he handle the stress that goes with the job of county sheriff? Gotta be careful here. Remember, once a sheriff is sworn in, he is locked in for four years, unlike the state which can release those who don't measure up.

Find out the answers to the above questions before you commit yourself.

I KNOW the answers to your

I KNOW the answers to your questions. I have known Billy for years. I KNOW that he risked his life doing the job he was sworn in to do, protecing the citizens of Bladen County. You are hilarious. Why don't YOU find the answers to those questions yourself

Why the Obscure Comparison?

Unless Earl decided to shoot Benson and run for sheriff in November, I don't think you understand the questions well enough to be posing them.

Answers

Do you have the answers to the questions?

How long did Ward wear the badge as a traffic officer for the state?

Why did he leave traffic and go to work as an instructor at Salemburg?

As others have stated, Ward is a friendly enough guy, from a good family. There are some unanswered questions here that need to be addressed. One of them is, can he handle the stress of being sheriff. There is much more to that position than working traffic and teaching school.

HAHAHA! Yes there is a lot

HAHAHA! Yes there is a lot more to being sheriff than working traffic and teaching school. There's also a lot more to being sheriff than sitting in an office signing off on background checks for ride alongs! What kind of stressful situations has Benston been in? How do we know that HE can handle the stress of the position?!

Mr. Ward

I have known Mr. Billy my whole life unlike some of the people writing these comments. He has always been nice and even gone out of his way to say hello. I think before you place judgement on this man you should get to know him, he is a fine fellow.In my opinion he would make a great sheriff I mean look what we have to choose from. You have a lying sheriff now and the democratic winner who is letting earl run his image in the dirt. Mr. Benston if you don't have the spine to stand up for yourself then how will you lead a department.I would feel more comfortable with Mr. Ward running the sheriffs office than anyone of the other guys.If you gave Earl a chance after sixteen years away then why not give Mr. Ward a chance. Everyone has skeletons in the closet so why don't we just leave them there.

Storms

I think if the Commissioners will not step in to "investigate" these circumstances of what is going on maybe a Judge or the Attorney General should order an SBI investigation that interm Sheriff Storms is failing his duties and ordering deputies not to perform their sworn duties. This matter is continuing for too long!

Hot shots

That's exactly what WWAY does. Dig up garbage! I visited the Sheriff's office yesterday and Storms was where he normally is, in his office! Benston was at the front desk for operations and Dunn was conducting a victim interview. It is exactly this type of irresponsible Jerry Springer type reporting that keeps the turmoil going on in Bladen County. I will give Gary Edwards some credit, At least he had the guts to identify himself and guess what. Contrary to popular thought, he still has a job. These young hot shots are just upset because they could not make the cut for highway patrol and now there little traffic stop power trip has been taken away. If these reporters did proper research they would find out that the Sheriff's office primary responsibility is to serve civil papers, operate the jail and answer emergency calls, all task that can be done quicker and more efficiently now that they won't be running tags and sitting in traffic court. I think that the worst that citizens will see is a quicker response to emergency calls. Finally; these allegations that relationships with other departments have been jeapordized. Come on people! The Sheriff has only been in control for a little over a week, hardly enough time to reasonably gauge any type of relationship strain and if reporter would quit circling like vultures he could really get to work. Storms is a retired 4 term Sheriff with an untarnished record and I can assure citizens that no one control's Storms.

Mr Fireguy, you refer to

Mr Fireguy, you refer to these guys as Hot Shots, well you obviously don't know any of them or have never worked with them at all. I am sure you know a few and I could probably guess which ones so to your statement.

There isn't one of the so called Hot Shots that would charge a 16 year old child for being sexualy assaulted by not only a family member but someone a lot older just because they can hid behind the letter of the law to do so. Then turn around and have this CHILD arrested while at school.

These guys have enough common sense to know that is not how a sex crimes case is handled.

Obviously there is a investigator that is still empoloyeed there that does not have this common sense. That investigator was a major Benston supporter which is the reason her "record" didn't need to be looked at by Earl Storms.

So I will take any of these "Hot Shot" road guys over someone like her any day.

I commend the deputies who spoke out for what they did, it took a lot of courage, and I understand why you can not reveal your identity. My prayers go out to you. And thank you for saying something.

Old Fart

Since Earl Storms came in things have went from bad to worse. The commissioners should have chosen someone who wasn't supporting either party. Storms was supporting Prentis and it was pretty obvious when you pass by his house and he has a Prentis sign in his yard. These deputies are doing good things for this county. If all they are supposed to do is serve papers then who's responsiblity is it to get the drugs off the street? the firemen?! lol! Fireguy is going to keep messing around until gets burned. I think you might have inhaled to much smoke fighting fires. Keep fighting fires while we taxpayers fight for what is right!!!!!! Billy it's looking good for you!!!!!!

The Total Package

Let me start out by saying that i am a deputy sheriff. Our primary job is to get civil papers and warrants served, but that still leaves the drugs and crimes that could be cleaned up by working traffic. We are not out here trying to play highway patrol we just like doing our job, (THE TOTAL PACKAGE). If you restrtict me to just serving civil papers then why did i take an oath to protect and serve the citizens of this county if i can not give them 100%. I don't know what the future holds then this county is in for a rude awakening. I also heard the comment just do your job no matter what you have to face, people if that involves me losing my job then i have not done you or my family any good. i am not telling you i will not protect you but our hands are kind of tied. So if you want (THE TOTAL PACKAGE) get Earl Storms out of here.

No guts

Guess you did not have the guts to identify youself 'fireguy'

Hot Shots

Edwards took a medical leave after his comments. He can't be fired on medical leave.

Sounds like you've never

Sounds like you've never been in law enforcement. I've worked with this sheriff's deptartment. While traffic stops are not the primary duty of deputies, every deputy knows that when it's late ant night, the call volume is low and it's too late to serve papers, that's the optimum time to stop suspicious vehicles because it bears fruit - more often than not the driver has a suspended license, or no insurance, false tags, an outstanding warrant, or driving drunk, or there are drugs in the vehicle.
I recommend you make sure your brain is loaded before you shoot off your mouth.

Narrowminded

So then; what you describe does not appear to be what Storms wants to stop. When does it take the use of a radar in order to accomplish your described goal? Just saying. Maybe you should rap your brain around the complexity of the whole issue before engaging.

Please clarify

"the optimum time to stop suspicious vehicles because it bears fruit"

Are you saying you've profiled "suspicious" vehicles that haven't actually broken a law yet because it may "bear fruit". It sounds to me like you profile people, then run up behind them in such a manner as to make them nervous so they may weave a little as a reason to stop them. Your " more often than not" may be violating the rights of the "not" so you can get some "fruit".

I say this because I've been stopped for a pin light out on my vehicle. They then wanted to search my vehicle because I had long hair I.M.O. I don't drink or do drugs and didn't let them search the vehicle. After seeing I wasn't scared or intimidated, was let go with no warning ticket. The burnt out pin light was just a reason to stop me and not a public safety issue.

If you have nothing to hide,

If you have nothing to hide, then why get nervous just because a deputy is behind you? Is it okay with you that drunk drivers are not being stopped by the deputies because the "sheriff" has told them not to? I sure hope I'm not on the road at that time!

Here's an example

During the day no officers have their radar set exactly on the speed limit as a matter of routine.

At Midnight, however, many drop their radar to the exact posted speed limit.

That establishes probable cause to stop anyone exceeding that speed, and trust me when I say that the hours between Midnight and 4 A.M. are "prime fishing hours." According to most estimates every third vehicle on the road between those hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning is being driven by someone who has been drinking.

So you stop a person for speeding, use your senses and experience to ascertain if they're drunk, high, or just heading home after the swing shift, and act accordingly. If he or she isn't loaded, you let them go with a warning to slow dowm.

In your example you state that you had a light burned out. That sounds far less a case of police harrassment than it sounds like you set yourself up to be stopped. You see, YOU don't decide what's a "public safety issue." Chapter 20 of the NCGS does that, and when you violate it the officer has a perfectly legitimate reason to stop you.

BTW, how in the world can an officer see you to judge your appearance when you're nothing more than approaching headlights on the opposite side of the highway?

BTW, Um, street lights...

...at an intersection, my window down. The light that was burned out had just done so without my knowlegde. It wasn't a front or rear light but one on the side.

"it sounds like you set yourself up to be stopped". Nah, I just got off work and was headed home.

I have family and friends in law enforcement and think they do a great job over all, but in this case, the officer went straight to wanting to search my vehicle. You or anyone else can't convince me that profiling people because of their looks or what they drive doesn't play a part in traffic stops, I've heard it from their mouths.

I'm more than happy to

I'm more than happy to clarify it for you. Then after I do, I'll ask you to explain what you mean by "profiling".
The key word is "suspicious" vehicle - not just any vehicle. Probable cause is not required to stop a vehicle, an officer only needs reasonable suspicion. It is illegal to speed, fail to observe traffic control signs & devices, or to drive with improperly working equipment such as headlights or tail lights burned out (anyone with common sense knows how dangerous this is at night), even a license plate lamp so our plates can be visible at night. Such vehicles are stopped, and if there are no additional offenses discovered during the course of the stop, the officer has the discretion to write the operator a citation, or issue a warning ticket or a verbal warning. Very often, in stopping such vehicles we find the driver to be impaired, or in posession of drugs, or is driving with a suspended or revoked license, or has a warrant, or is driving with fictitious tags or no insurance. We get them off the streets to protect you; why would you object to this? And what officer ever said to you "I pulled you over because you have long hair."? When I make a decision to stoop a vehicle at night for a light out, I can't even see the driver from my car, and it's from behind the wheel of my patrol car that I make the decision to stop the vehicle, and that is based soley on the offense or infraction, not on the demographics of the drivers I can hardly see.

Sure

Police officers have wide discretion as to who they stop for a traffic violation. Not only are police officers able to make traffic stops based on countless offenses, they also hold the decision-making power as to whom they will ticket for traffic offenses. While allowing police officers discretion in whom they stop and ticket may be common and legal, this power may also be abused.

Many of people have been pulled for a pretextual traffic stop. No the office didn't say he pulled me over for having long hair, but asking me if I had drugs in the vehicle and if he could search it told me otherwise. I was profiled.

I don't object to you doing your job and thank you for it, I just know that there are bad apples in every bunch.

walk a day in my shoes

I TO AM A DEPUTY MR. FIREGUY. YOU CREDIT GARY EDWRDS FOR PUTTING HIS NAME OUT THERE BUT NOT THE BRAVE ONES WHO TALKED. WHY DON'T YOU PUT YOUR NAME OUT THERE INSTEAD OF JUST FIRE GUY, WOW. I THINK THESE DEPUTIES ARE VERY BRAVE FOR STANDING UP FOR THEIR FELLOW DEPUTIES. IF THEY HAD NOT DONE THIS THEN WHO WOULD?I GUESS THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN ARGUE THE FACT ARE DEPUTIES AND EMPLOYEES IN THE DEPARTMENT. IF YOU DO NOT WORK THERE THEN YOU DO NOT KNOW SO BEST THING I CAN TELL YOU IS TO KEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND GO FIGHT YOUR LITTLE FIRES AND LEAVE THE REAL THINGS TO THE BIG BOYS.I CAN AND HAVE DONE YOUR JOB CAN YOU DO MINE? I GUESS THE REAL QUESTION IS COULD YOU WALK A DAY IN MY SHOES?

Criminal Paradise - Way to go Storms!

This has got to be the absolute WORST for Bladen County! Not only is the sheriff's race racially charged, now you have a Mother-in-law councilmember, or excuse me, "Dr Mother-in-law", a politically inept Sheriff, and a "Chief Deputy" who's allowing this destruction of the county! Not to mention disparaging remarks about the State Police? Are you serious??? You might not like them, but keep your pie hole shut and act professional at least! You represent (whether we want it or not) our county!

How much did it cost to install the equipment that was taken out of the vehicles? How much will it cost us taxpayers to re-install it? Because that's whats going to happen when everyone realizes how unsafe we are now and raises a stink over it. Thanks Storm, thanks Bentson, you've both really done wonders for our county, and this change only took a week! Wow, our Pres has taken so much longer to try to do what you've done so fast! Thank goodness there are people that will stand up to whats going on up there, too bad we're falling apart so fast down here.

How come none of this

How come none of this surprises me I want to know what the residents of the county are doing to push this big nasty issue on to the state level. Apparently the whole system in Bladen County is corrupt and dirty and fresh blood needs to be brought in to investigate these issues! Funny Blanks who is Benstons ex mother in law or mother in law can't remember which was bust for trying to vote twice oh but wait she was just trying to check to make sure the polls worked properly yeah whatever Ms.Blanks the entire county isn't ignorant I hope there is a high enough percentage that isn't that stupid and they vote your lying corrupt self out of office along with whoever supports your aggenda. Benston I thought was okay until now and well not I don't think he is what Bladen County needs as well! Earl Storms supported Benston and now all of a sudden the one who ran against Benston and his in house supporters are fired? Yeah political agenda deffantly at play here in good old Bladen County! Now the rest of the force is told not to stop people not to use the K9's heck yeah Storms handed over the county to the criminal element I bet they are all having a blast right now! And he hasn't been seen since Wednesday's meeting umm doesn't he have to show up for work? This mess is one hot mess someone needs to take care of and I hope that hatch act is being violated by Benston's new posistion nothing would make me happier at the moment because I'm sure some of Bladen County members will only vote for him because of the color of his skin which is just wrong! I hope the voters wake up, educate theirselves on their choices and make the best decision they can make for Bladen County because right now it's going to hell in a handbasket!

Solution to Crime Problem in Bladen?

Mr. Storms is correct. When he was sheriff the crime rate wasn't a fraction as high as it is now. Bladen County is now dubbed "the lawless county" and has been for quite some time. The Highway Patrol should do their job and the deputies should do theirs - concentrate on ALL crime - including property crimes. The crime rate is way too high here for the amount of people that live here.

The DA's office has something to do with that also. They are way too easy on felons. The deputies work hard to clean up the county and as soon as the criminal stands before the judge, he's back on the street. The sames ones are arrested over and over again - what happened to 3 strikes and you're out?

IT IS SHAMEFUL. OUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT NEEDS AN AWAKENING. WE WANT A CLEAN COUNTY AGAIN AND I SPEAK FOR EVERYONE HERE. CITIZENS OF BLADEN COUNTY NEED TO BAN TOGETHER TO WIPE OUT THIS HORRIBLE PROBLEM - SPEAK OUT IF YOU SEE A CRIME- THERE HAS TO BE A SOLUTION.

WE ALSO WANT ALL CRIMES TO BE REPORTED IN OUR LOCAL PAPER LIKE THEY USED TO BE. SOMEBODY MAY HAVE SEEN SOMETHING THAT MAY HELP IN SOLVING THEM.

Why is it

so many can speak off camera but not be of sufficient character to be open? Why are there generalities but no specifics?

Hard to believe the county has become a "criminal's paradise" in less than 2 weeks. But if the Highway Patrol is lazy and the Deputies are not doing their job, is it time for the law abiding citizens to strap on their shooting irons; load up the shotguns; and protect their own life and property?

Has anyone heard of the SBI or the Attorney General's office?

County Commissioners, if this is true, you place the County and yourselves, individually at risk for litigation when the first person is hurt or the first break in occurs.

Better talk to competent legal counsel.

It's been a criminal

It's been a criminal paradise for years now.

It doesn't take a rocket

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why they don't speak on camera they don't want to lose their jobs like the others did duh! It's heading towards being a criminals paradise if yall don't push to have Storms put out and if you vote Benston in!