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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There are still a lot of questions about who did what during a Wilmington Police prostitution sting last year that led to changes in the department yesterday.

There could be more answers if Wilmington's top cop would ask a question of city council. As we look for answers, there's one big question for city leaders: is the integrity of the police department at stake?

"It was a big hit," Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said during a news conference yesterday.

Today, Wilmington Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan said, "It certainly is an embarrassment for the department."

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo agreed. "Yes, this could defiantly affect the department's integrity," he said.

State law allows an agency to release normally private information if it helps maintain the integrity of the agency. Yesterday Evangelous said he would have to ask city council for permission. Today we tried to find out if council would give him the power.

"If I thought it was to the benefit to people to know that and that kind of thing, I would probably make that decision in the affirmative," Sheridan said.

Mayor Saffo says he would have to speak with the chief and the city attorney before deciding how he'd vote.He hopes to have that conversation soon. "I would say probably in the next 48 hours," Saffo said, adding that there could be a decision by next week.

The demotion and suspension of three officers involved in the sting last March could affect the District Attorney's Office. DA Ben David said cases involving the officers will be continued. David said he will do whatever he needs to make sure the integrity of the criminal justice system is protected. He said he wants to review all the facts of the police department's internal review before making any judgements.

We reached out to every member of City Council today. Councilman Neil Anderson did not want to comment, because he said all he knew about what happened, he'd read in the paper. Councilman Kevin O'Grady said he only knew what Chief Evangelous had released in a statement yesterday. Council members Margaret Haynes, Laura Padgett and Charlie Rivenbark have not returned our calls. We also asked yesterday to speak with City Manager Sterling Cheatham. He also has not responded.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest 0000

    So how does giving up any more names maintain integrity regarding that department? The Chief already said that no laws were broken, which is now being reviewed by the DA, and giving any MORE names would only paint them as “guilty”, target them for abuse, and give the blood sucking media and local liberals something to unfairly sink their teeth into.

    Why will releasing more names maintain or restore integrity by releasing the names? It won’t. It will only give more targets to throw mud at.

  • 1Guest

    I personally have no interest in the actual names involved, but it’s not just names missing. Taxpayers may want to know what happened and what’s being done about it. Not just be told, “we messed up, but we’re handling it”. I think the Chief has done a good job and have faith it will be taken care of properly, but for many just being told that isn’t enough. Some want to hear what happened, and what’s going to change in the future to prevent this from happening again.

    And what’s with the “liberals” comment? I thought they were the ones in bed with these cushy government jobs. I thought it was the conservatives that demand some accountability for what their tax dollars pay for. Am I wrong on that?

  • Guest857

    Drugs, alcohol, money, hookers…starting to get me excited! Men will cave in. That’s the reason why we are all here breathing air. Some just manage their weakness better than others. The forbidden fruit will always turn my head as I’m 100% man and 100% human. Seems like there is too much stuff illegal out there What happened to our free country?

  • Ace

    This is ridiculous. The police department spends much time and money fighting prostitution, that could be spent wisely on hard criminals and drug enforcement. If the police are going to make a mockery of themselves then that information should be public. Might stop some of this nonsense.

  • GuestIndawindigoes

    Police state, bro, corrupt police state….

  • taxpayer

    “We also asked yesterday to speak with City Manager Sterling Cheatham. He also has not responded.”

    Maybe you can corner him at the “Power Breakfast” on Friday at the Convention Center. $35/head to listen to what I’m sure will amount to a crock of bull!

  • GuestO’Day

    A police undercover operation went wrong… like this is the first time this has ever happened in the history of law enforcement. There has been substantial departmental discipline handed down in the way of demotions and suspensions. What more will be served by releasing ordinarily confidential personnel records of the affected officers?

    Sting operations aka entrapment are bad policy to begin with.

  • ChefnSurf

    Without getting into whether more info should or shouldn’t be disseminated on this embarrassing scandal (personally, I believe it’s the right thing to do), I couldn’t help but notice the lack of leadership being provided by Wilmington’s “leaders”.

    It has become more than obvious that not one of them wants to take the responsibility for making an actual decision on this matter. To the contrary of what one might expect from a leader, they’re all shucking and jiving, ducking and striving to pass the buck to the next person.

    “Evangelous said he would have to ask city council for permission”. “Saffo says he would have to speak with the chief and the city attorney before deciding how he’d vote”. The other council members are all doing an obscene version of the “see-hear-speak no evil” routine characterized by the classic three monkeys. They either have no idea what’s going on or are deliberately remaining incommunicado. This is the same group of gutless wonders, who on “advice” of counsel decided it was safer to call a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree rather than possibly deal with any repercussions (which they had to deal with anyway because of their cowardly choice).

    The real question here is why the voters are putting these people in charge of their city when it’s obvious that these so call “leaders” think it’s OK to be in charge providing they don’t have to actually be a leader. It seems that the only time any of them ever act resolutely is when a decision, in some way or another, might possibly feather their own personal nests. So many bad decisions by so few are affecting so many Wilmingtonians in so many ways.

    Perhaps it’s past time for the voters to step up and start making better decisions as well.

  • Guest Reply

    “I couldn’t help but notice the lack of leadership being provided by Wilmington’s “leaders”…(Unquote)
    Where have you been for the past several years ChefnSurf?
    I think their actions fall under…”Stay the Course”!

  • Guest2020

    It’s way past time for the voters to step up and start making better decisions. When I lived in Wilmington things were set up so that the mayor only voted if there was a tie. Has that changed? Regardless, someone does need to man up and make a decision.

  • Guest1948

    This sting was funded with tax payer money. I think tax payers need accountability for the actions of these officers. It’s not important to list their names – just give us the facts – and let Chief Evangelous handle the personel issues.

  • ChefnSurf

    You’re right. Their actions do fall into the catagory of “Stay the Course”.

    If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that I’ve never been too shy to post an acidic critique now and again. My “couldn’t help but notice” thing falls somewhere between rhetorically polite and cynical.

    Regardless of how I’ve said it, I think this an important issue that needs to be addressed over and over again until the voters finally do something about it. Hey, if the voters could get off their butts and overwhelmingly defeat the stadium thing these very same people were trying to cram down their throats they can rectify this problem even more easily.



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