LELAND, NC (WWAY) -- At last night's Leland Town Council meeting, Town Manager David Hollis revealed that Police Chief Tim Jayne has been on probation for months. In fact the reprimand came the very same night we first reported on the issues inside the Leland Police Department.
That leaves the question: why wait until now to release this information?
For four months WWAY has tried to get answers from town leaders about a host of issues within the Leland Police Department. They've repeatedly said they cannot talk about what's been going on or refused to admit there were problems... until Thursday night.
That's when Hollis revealed that on September 15 the town reprimanded Jayne.
"On September 15, 2011, Chief of Police Timothy Jayne was given a written reprimand, required to pay restitution for a town-owned vehicle and placed on six months probation for management actions inconsistent with the Town of Leland personnel policy and professional standard," Hollis told WWAY.
That same night the town settled with Ofc. Sherry Lewis, who was shot in the crotch during a training simulation exercise back in March. That incident led to reports of more problems within the department and continued stone-walling by town leaders when asked if they had disciplined anyone within the police department.
So after all this time, why release the information about Jayne's probation now?
"I came on board in November, and I've been pretty diligent and methodical in what I'm doing in regards to this and in regards to every other department in the town," Hollis said.
Hollis said he feels it's important for the public to know what happened. That's why he asked Town Council to use a state law that would let him release the information to help restore public confidence. We pushed the town to use that statute months ago and stop ignoring the mounting allegations.
Back in late September Councilwoman Martha Currie admitted ignoring the situation would not make it go away.
"Maybe at first, I kind of thought, 'This is just rumors, and it's gonna go away,' but it hasn't gone away, so it's time we do something," Currie said on September 30.
Unlike other members of council, Currie tried to get answers for the public, but was repeatedly outnumbered when it came time to vote.
Along the way, Jayne has called the media's search for answers a "witch hunt" and claimed that former Assistant Town Manager Michelle Cox, who last year recommended Jayne be fired for misconduct, was trying to personally destroy him. A quarter of his department has quit or been fired as officers have reportedly been forced to take lie detector tests as Jayne searched for information leaks. Hollis has said no one was "forced" to submit to a polygraph.
In the wake of this new information about Jayne, we tried to talk to members of town council about the decision to release this information now. Most told us they could not talk about it, but Councilwoman Jane Crowder says it was Hollis's decision to inform the public so they would start the new year out on the right foot.
Hollis says nothing triggered the release. He just thought it was time.
"I don't think anything's happened that it needs to come out now," he said. "I think it's important for it to come out now so I asked town council if I could and they agreed that I could."
Brenda Bozeman, who took over as mayor after serving as a member of council, has said she will wait for the results of a SBI investigation into the police department. Just last month she said she had no reason not to trust Jayne or his department.
Hollis says Jayne has been working under the Leland town standards since he was put on probation.
We called Chief Jayne for comment. He has not returned our call.