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14 DWI cases dismissed after officer resigns


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- More than a dozen DWI cases lost, because a cop quit the Southport Police Department. The officer resigned in the face of an investigation by the SBI. Now Brunswick County prosecutors are dealing with the set-back.

Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove says law enforcement symbolizes public trust and faith.

"All we have is our character and our reputation," Dove said. "Without that, we are ineffective as law enforcement officers."

Honor, integrity and high moral character are the characteristics Chief Dove looks for when hiring officers, but when that trust is betrayed, he says it affects the entire community.

"It's hard to tell what is in a man's heart. This officer just forgot who he was and what he represented and what he stood for," Dove said.

Benjamin Rivenbark was assisting Boiling Spring Lakes Police in a drug bust June 12. Another officer noticed money missing from the house, and that's when Rivenbark became a suspect. Rivenbark is now under investigation by the SBI for stealing the money. Not only has Rivenbark damaged his reputation, but also damaged the judicial system.

"Once an officer's credibility is damaged, the DA has no choice in the matter," Dove said.

Rivenbark resigned from the police force June 24. That led Brunswick County prosecutors to dismiss 14 DWI cases last week, because they cannot prosecute a DWI without a witness.

"It cuts deep," Dove said. "Certainly these individuals may, or may not have, injured themselves or others and now they're going scot free."

Chief Dove says they are looking to fill Rivenbark's position as soon as possible. The Brunswick County Da's office has not returned our calls for comment.

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