LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Leland is once again in the spotlight. The town has suspended five police officers without pay as a result of ongoing investigations.
Town Manager David Hollis and interim Police Chief Mike James informed the following officers of their suspensions today: Deputy Chief Karl Smith, Lt. Bill Kozak, Lt. Rick Dellapia, Officer Michael Landen and Officer John Blasingame.
“It’s been going on for some time and just recently we received some information that led us to this point right here,” Hollis said. “We will continue with the ongoing investigations until we have all the necessary information to make an informed and final decision on these officers and their further employment with the Town of Leland Police Department. We feel strongly that the actions we have taken today are warranted based on the information we have thus far received.”
James says there are several allegations of policy violations, but could not give any more details because of the ongoing investigation.
“We want the citizens of the Town of Leland to know and understand that we are dedicated to providing effective and courteous law enforcement,” James said. “The level of service required of the police department by the town and the citizens will not be diminished by the actions taken today.”
“This is fairly indefinite until we can get the full information from the investigation,” Hollis said. “I’ve asked that the investigation be expedited so that we can come to a conclusion fairly soon.”
Hollis and James say the ultimate goal is to re-establish trust and move forward to changing the perceptions people have of the police department.
“To be able to do that, we have got to check ourselves and make sure that we are following the same rules and laws that we expect everybody else to do,” James said.
Last year, during an audit of documents and training files, state regulators discovered Blasingame had not completed his mandatory in-service training in 2009 due to his military commitment. Training and Standards said then that Blasingame should be relieved of his duty immediately.