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ONLY ON 3: Bladen deputy who spoke out loses job

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Bladen deputy who spoke out loses job
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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Controversy continues inside the Bladen County Sheriff's Office. A longtime deputy says he was fired for doing the right thing.

Former Sgt. Gary Edwards is the same deputy who spoke exclusively to WWAY in July about the inner workings of the Sheriff's Office when Earl Storms took over as interim sheriff. There was speculation then about why Storms let five deputies go for no reason.

Edwards said current Sheriff Prentis Benston let him go for blowing the whistle on the Sheriff's Office when Storms was in office.

"My thoughts are that it was the statements I made about Earl Storms when he was sworn in and let them five go," Edwards said. "We had a meeting that night telling us that he had that meeting saying he done what he done to cover his rear-end."

Edwards said he does not regret blowing the the whistle on the Sheriff's Office. He feels the tax payers in Bladen County deserve to know what their elected officials are doing whether it's good or bad.

Benston told us today he decided not to swear in Edwards because "his services were no longer needed."

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Sgt. Edwards

I hope sincerely that Sergeant Edwards has found a new job. I do not know him personally; however, I have appreciated from afar his admirable behavior in this ridiculously dishonest, sleazy mess created by Mr. Benston and Mr. Storms. I am a Bladen County citizen who very much appreciates his work and his integrity with the sheriff's department. It is a very sad fact that if his "services are no longer needed," what has really been said is, "State the truth, and you will be punished by my removing your livelihood. Dare to speak the truth, and I will squash you! Maintain the status quo of deception, or that will be the end of you."

Thank you, WWAY, for offering a place to state this.

Mr. Benston won the election

Mr. Benston won the election and he is sheriff of Bladen County. #1 news story of the year 2010 according to todays Bladen Journal. But, did he win the true election? My advice would be for him to take a look at how many votes he got that were not straight party. As one guest put it about the good ole boy politics of the past being on their way out. A strong message was sent in the November elections, but it seems the new sheriff has not even taken the time to look at the INTELLIGENT votes cast in the election.

Any of you with access to the internet(Bladenonline) can access the election results on the "links" icon; then going to Bladen County link; then going to Board of elections; then going to election results. One will fined these figures for the sheriff's race but they hold pretty steady for all Democratic candidates. IF IT WASN'T FOR THE STRAIGHT PARTY VOTES, Mr. Benton would have been slaughtered not just a landslide but a SLAUGHTER.

Straight Party Votes cast
Democrats 4399
Republicans 588
Liberterians 101

Sheriff's race
Billy Ward 5844-all these votes had to be specifically cast for Mr. Ward. Another interesting thing about the votes cast; even Republicans cast 588 STRAIGHT PARTY votes. Those votes if cast individually for all Republican candidates running and then voting for Mr. Ward for sheriff would have won the sheriff's race for Mr. Ward. One wouldn't think that all Republican straight party voters would have voted for Mr. Ward, but one would not think they all would have voted for Mr. Benston either. With the Liberterian straight party votes there would have been 689 votes that maight have been cast for Mr. Ward.

Prentis Benston 6398 votes-but remember 4399 of those votes were straight party votes. Take away those 4399 votes that were cast mainly by members of the BCIA, of which Mr. Benston use to be the vice-president until he rsigned AND HE WOULD HAVE RECEIVED ONLY 1999 VOTES CAST SPECIFICALLY FOR MR. BENSTON. Based on this, one can see that Mr. Ward received 5844 votes cast specifically for him and Mr. Benston received only 1999 votes cast specifically for him. I'm going to go into this any farther than to say that Mr. Ward received almost 3 times more votes for specifically sheriff than did Mr. Benston.

There is always much speculation about what message voters were trying to send when they voted. It is evident that the voters were telling the Deomcrats that we are SICK and TIRED of politics as usual(the good ole boy method). In the sheriff's race, I personnally believe the voters who voted specifically against Mr. Benston were saying that they are SICK and TIRED of the good ole boys method of running the sheriff's dept. You know, firing deputies for no justifiable reason just like his protege' did back in July. Now, he has done the same thing to Sgt. Edwards that is the good ole boys way of running our sheriff's dept. People in law enforcement MUST be led; they can not be pushed or drug to better "serving and protecting." The personnel of our sheriff's dept. deserve leadership that is fair and trustworthy. This message was sent by 5844 voters when they voted specifically for Mr. Ward. The people of Bladen County want to know if you recieved that message Mr. Benston. By your actions with Sgt. Edwards, it seems you did not. It is still business as usual and yet "NO ONE HAS BEEN FIRED". What a lousy reason to give to a long time employee that he is not bing fired it is just that "his services were no longer needed". You might as well have just have went ahead and told him you "didn't like the way he parted his hair" or you "didn't like the color of his skin" or you "didn't like the fact that he believes elected officials should be open and transparent in their actions" or any of thousands of other good ole boy reasons why deputies are fired for no jutifiable
reason.

NOW TO THE VOTERS OF BLADEN COUNTY

One of the guest commented on the general stautes of North Carolina. This is where the battle must start. As it currently stands, deputies work at the pleasure of the sheriff. As it currently stands a sheriff, indeed, can fire a deputy because of "anything", even his race. This must be changed and the men to start bombarding about getting the General Stautes changed are Wesley Meredith and William Brisson. The approach is simple for Mr. Brisson, look at the votes that were cast for you over and above the straight party votes. The voters are saying politics as usual are on their way out and so will you be if the statues regarding the sheriff departments and straight party voting are not changed. No one, and the voters are saying in greater numbers, NO ONE, should be allowed in an elected position to fire another public servant without just reason. The county manager at the very least should have to sign off on the firing.

The voting statutes, must be corrected so that each voter must cast individual votes for each office. The voters are speaking; Mr. Benston, Mr. Meredith, Mr. Brisson, and any other person in an elected position; ARE YOU LISTENING. To Sgt. Edwards, my deepest regrets as to how your release from our sheriff's dept. took place. It really is a shame. Even those 1999 people who specifically voted for Mr. Benston would agree with that unless they are satisfied with the old "good ole boys way of doing things."

At least Mr. Benston will not be hiring any more deputies. He has already stated, "your services are not needed".

someone be honest

Why does all black people defend him? Ill give you one guess..because he is black! I don't care if he's black white red or blue..yes y'all have a black sheriff but why defend soles on that reason especially when all the stuff he's doing is dirty. And they say white peoples racist..ha.

This is the very reason that

This is the very reason that the genral statutes of North Carolina covering the sheriff's dept. of our state need to be updated into the 21 century. Any person doing their job should not be denied the right to do their job regsrdless of the color of the sherif's skin(currently black) interim (white) previous sheriff (white).

Isn't it unusual that the current sheriff (black) has a man on his payroll (white) that ran against him in the spring primary!!!!!!!!!!
Then he and his protege' Mr. Storms hire this man into the sheriff's department. Any man running for sheriff is saying by running that I can run operate the dept. better than anyone else running, that means better than Prentis Benston. Yet this sheriff and his protege, Mr. Storms go out and hire this opponent to serve in the dept. Makes one wonder why this deputy who use to work for a police dept. in the county ever ran for sheriff in the first place!!!!!! The good ole boy network was operating and it accomplished its purpose; that simply was for this deputy to take away enough votes from the top vote getter so Mr. Benston could call for a runoff. Prentis Benston would never even have been in the general election in November if this deputy had not run.

What WWAY needs to find out is why this curreent deputy ran and where did the money come from to support his run. Obviously he is being well compensated now for having run. As far as qualifications to be in the sheriff's dept.; his boss at his former employer would be more qualified to be over there. Don't be surprised, in fact, if he doesn't show up before long. Believe some said he was part of the good ole boy network also. In fact, we might even see the interim sheriff back over there!!! One can't hold two elected positions at
once but a deputy is not elected. Do I here the phone ringing at the interim sheriff's residence? Bladen County has really been improved
ASSOCIATION or COMMITTEE or whatever you call yourself. Must have been those folks from New York you had working the polls and of course the man from Cumberland County. What an administration, while folks in Bladen County are seeking employment.

P.S. Don't ask our local representative to get the general statutes changed; he thinks the director of the local board of elections is the one to get that done. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Former Sgt. Gary Scott

Former Sgt. Gary Scott Edwards is crazy, period. It's Prentis Benston office and he can do whatever he pleases, anytime he pleases, period. The only reason WWAY keeps this up is because they have no desire to tell any of the positive news coming out of Bladen County's Sheriff's Office, period. For everyone who wants to keep kicking a dead horse, have fun.

Sincerely,
BBM

Hey BBM, Why not share the

Hey BBM,

Why not share the good news coming out of the sheriff's dept! Six more people gone. Is that good news? "His services are no longer needed". Is that good news? 40 to 50 to 60 crimes committed in a 7 or 8 day period. Is that good news? Bladen County law enforcement personnel out of work and people driving in from Cumberlabd County to work. Is that good news?

You must have a warped sense of what constitutes "good news". By the way, if Gary Edwards is crazy "which he isn't"; but if he is, was he crazy when he was hired or did he go crazy knowing he had to work with the current sheriff?

What has been and is going on in the sheriff's dept. stinks like a dead horse; especially when close to 200 years of law enforcement experience has been moved out of the dept. since back in July of 2010. If something that is rotten is stirred long enough, the source of the stink will eventually be uncovered and you can be assured that it won't be a dead horse.

Something is missing.

There looks to be a lot missing in this story. There is almost always a reason for everything, whether ethical or unethical.

Bladen County Deputy who spoke loses his job

It is LONG past time for Bladen County to rise above the level it has been in for so long. In case the citizens of this county have not heard, we are well beyond the "good ole boy system" in this state and country.

I was shocked beyond belief when "Sheriff" Storms fired the deputies and refused to vote for anyone not coming to the front and denouncing his actions. Thus I refused to vote for our now Sheriff Benston. Now we find Sheriff Benston firing another deputy without reasonable cause. If this firing is truely running along the lines of the past firings then I was VERY correct in NOT voting in our present sheriff. If in the future I am shown that my reasoning is incorrect I will be the first to admit it. Until then...I have little if any respect for the "powers that be" in Bladen County.

Lynn

Reasonable cause?

The sheriff can fire you if he doesn't like the way you part your hair. Deputies serve at his pleasure and he needs no justification whatsoever to let a deputy go.

Define this

In NC this is called "THE RIGHT TO WORK LAW". What an oxymoron from a buntch of morons in NC Government and I don't see it ever changing.

Try READING the Right to Work Law

It strictly prohibits being forced to join a union as a condition of employment. It has NOTHING to do with a deputy being let go by a sheriff.

No one has a RIGHT to be a deputy sheriff, Nimrod.

I guess when you're part of

I guess when you're part of the problem that caused the county to pay out $350,000 in a lawsuit and have sued the county in the past, that might be also why his services were no longer needed.

Controversy does not continue WWAY. You work at the pleasure of the Sheriff,,,THAT'S Statute,,,not controversy. Gary's just looking at another attempt to sue the county that he "really wants to work for". Yea for sure.

If you want to post about

If you want to post about law suits of the past; go back and take a look back in 1988 what the current sheriff's (former) mother-in-law did to our beloved Mother Bladen. It was finally settled by a capitulation on the part of the then county commissioner board and has been costing our county ever since with an oversized commission board.

Also take a look at the voting figures for the November election. It is true that Mr. Benston is the new sheriff, but how did he get there?

In the spring primary he ran against a man from BlADENBORO who by his running was saying "I can operate the sheriff's dept. better than my opponents". He lost miserably to the two front runners. One still has to wonder WHY he ran for sheriff?

His running took enough votes away from the top vote getter so that Mr. Benston could call for a run off. Remember again, why did the man from Bladenboro run in the first place? THEN OF ALL THINGS, Mr. Benston and his protege' (the interim sheriff) hire this man (WHO HAS JUST SAID I CAN RUN THIS DEPT. BETTER THAN YOU CAN) as a deputy. Again, why did this new deputy run for sheriff in the first place? If he had not run, Prentis Benston would not be the current sheriff of Bladen County.

Now to the voting totals. Anyone can access them through the links of Bladenonline.

TOTALS
Straight party votes
Liberterians 101
Republicans 588
Democrats 4399

FOR SHERIFF
Ward 5844
Benston 6398

5844 voters cast votes specifically for Mr. Ward. Only 1999 voters cast votes specifically for Mr. Benston.

You see, the BCIA moved into the picture with its premarked ballots back in the primary runoff and the general election with poll workers from as far away as New York. Guess who use to be vice-president of BCIA? You guessed right, Mr. Benston until he resigned. Even with the total votes Mr. Benston received 6398, he only won won by 554 votes over Mr. Ward. Republicans and Liberterians cast 698 straight party votes and one would think that most of the Republican straight party voters thought they were voting for Mr. Ward for sheriff when in reality they were voting for no one for sheriff. Neither were the 101 straight party voting Liberterians voting for any one for sheriff.

Folks often make comments about what message they think the voters were sending to our elected officals in the election results. Mandates, landslide wins, etc. I think the Democrats reasonably got the message from the voters in the November election; the US House changed from Democrat to Republican as did both houses of our state. Here in Bladen County, it is as plain as the nose on ones face; WE ARE FEED UP WITH THE GOOD OLE BOY POLITICS AS USAUAL-WE ARE FED UP WITH THE WAY THE SHERIFF IS GIVEN UNLIMITED UNRESTRAINED RIGHTS TO FIRE A DEPUTY JUST BECAUSE OF THE "WAY HE PART HIS HAIR", THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN, THE WAY HE SMILES, HIS RIGHT TO SPEAK HIS MIND ABOUT OPENESS IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT, OR ANY ONE OF ANOTHER 100,000 FLIMSY EXCUSES.

Doesn't look like it did much good and Mr. Benston the voters who voted specifically for Mr. Ward (5844 of them) were saying on almost a three to one ratio that they want it stopped. Now we get the news about Sgt. Edwards firing; and you have used the same old methods that have been used in the past. When the voters less than two months ago told you and all elected officials we are sick and tired of politics as usual. You had a wonderful opportunity to bring our sheriff's dept. into the 21 century but you have reverted back to business as usual with the way you handled Sgt. Edwards situation.

If I make no mistake, Sg. Edwards makes 6 that have chosen to "retire" or have been fired "excuse me, 'his services were no longer needed' since you won the election. There is still something dreadfully wrong in our sheriff's dept. You are the leader. Deputies have to be led not dragged about or pushed. When will you start leading like a leader in the 21 century? Bladen County people put out of work by you and former sheriffs and people from Cumberland County hired in their place. That is what has been wrong with the sheriffs powers and it is still what is wrong today. If you were not able to lead Sgt. Edwards to being an even better deputy under your command, then you should take your old protege's advice about how he could be taken out of the office back in July when he had his confrontation with the county commisiioners. It is your command; not BCIA's, not Earl Storms, not Steve Bunns, not Herman Dunns, not K. Rodney Hesters; and finally remember, it is under your command but it is still OUR (citizens of Bladen County) sheriff's department.

Today is the first day of the year 2011, Happy New Year to you and your entire staff. Obviously, we(voters) do not agree with what you have done to Sgt. Edwards. We will let you know that in 2013, unless you take advantage of what Mr. Storms stated back in July.

TO THE VOTERS OF BLADEN COUNTY:

We have a new legislature and a new DA:

There are some drastic changes that need to be made to the General Statutes of our state that relate to the sheriffs departments and voting:

#1. No sheriff should be allowed by himself to take any deputies job. At a very minimum, a firing of a deputy should have to be signed off on by the county manager. In fact, the county manager should be involved in not only the firing of any deputy but also the hiring of said deputies to make sure due process is used.

#2. Premarked ballots should not be allowed inside the voting enclosure.

#3. Straight party voting should be outlawed. And for sure trying to "vote twice or three times to just check the system" should be prosecuted to the upmost.

#4. There are countless others that I'm sure our newly elected Senator Wesley Meredith and our Representative Mr. William Brisson will help us get changed. Every time we see these two men or talk with them on the phone, it should be expressed to them that we want these 100 year old statutes updated into the 21 century.

$350,000

Sgt Edwards did not cost the county $350,000, really people. If truth be told it was Billy Cook himself that cost the county money. Had he been the man that he should have been to his family and children then they would have not seen the need to sue so they could financialy gain from his death. For crying out loud you are bringing up something that you know nothing about. How about you let alll officers know who you are and where you live and the next time that one of them have to deal with an out of thier mind crackhead they can just take them to your house and let you deal with them.

Sgt. Edwards regardless of if you liked him or not did his job, did a good job, and is a GREAT officer.

How about the fact that Prentis Benston said he wasnt firing anyone?? What happen with that?? Benston has lied from the beginning and allows his puppet master Heramn Dunn to tell him what to do.. Good luck Bladen County..

Law

That is the reason this law needs to be changed. I am a former Deputy Sheriff and left back in the 80's. I worked under three different Sheriffs and I left because I got tried of seeing good officers let go, because the Sheriff didn't like the way they parted their hair. Yes, I know you work at the pleasure of the Sheriff, but that needs to be changed.

Duck Blind Shooter...

Hey Guest,

Why don't you come out from behind your Duck Blind if you really know the facts. Sounds like you are part of the good 'ole Boy Network who stands to lose quite a bit. So grow a pair and stand up for Right, or back down if you can't handle that pea shooter you are holding.

And this too shall pass.

And this too shall pass.

peace and love

Why all of the racist comments, God made us all and he loves us all. When you get to heaven, if you get there, there will be no color. Why do you feel that black people should stay down, we have come a long way, white people have treated us wrong so long and now we get elected and we are wrong. Grow up and stop being racism.