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storms300.jpg Submitted by Joe Mauceri on Wed, 07/14/2010 - 2:10pm.

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.

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