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SBI to investigate WPD

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The State Bureau of Investigation will look into whether members of the Wilmington Police Department did anything criminal during a botched prostitution sting last year.

A SBI spokeswoman confirms District Attorney Ben David and Police Chief Ralph Evangelous requested the investigation. The DA and chief have scheduled a joint news conference for 4:15 p.m. It will be Evangelous's second news conference of the week.

Wednesday he met with reporters and said he was embarrassed and disappointed by the actions of undercover officers during the sting that led to two officers being demoted and one being suspended.

Friday morning city leaders stepped forward to stand behind the chief and the work he has done to correct the problem.

"My hat's off to Chief Evangelous for dealing with the issue," City Councilwoman Margaret Haynes said.

"People are talking about the code of silence with the police, and obviously that's not so strong. What happened that was not correct has been corrected. People have been disciplined for it, and there is a restructuring." But while city leaders may agree on Evangelous's handling of the situation, they do not agree on whether the department should release employee records to clear the air and maintain the integrity of the department.

"I think the state law is clear in terms of which confidential and protected information can be released, because you not only have parties that are involved in a particular incident, but you also have innocent employees that could also be involved," City Manager Sterling Cheatham said.

Haynes sees it differently. "I just think that sometimes we dig too deep for things that are really none of our business, and I don't need to see these people's personnel records," Haynes said. "That's up to the police chief to use his authority to discipline those people."

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