New chief aims to rebuild Navassa Police Department

NAVASSA, NC (WWAY) — After a great deal of controversy surrounding its police department, the Town of Navassa has hired a new police chief with 33 years of experience in law enforcement.

Chief Daryll DeCotis began Bolton’s police department in Columbus County 12 years ago. After moving to the private sector to work in security, he remembers hearing about a Navassa incident involving Eric Cinotti, who has been charged for allegedly pulling drivers over, pretending to be an officer.

“Pulling people over in other municipalities,” DeCotis said. “And so I said well, I think they need some leadership.”

With decades of experience in law enforcement, DeCotis has begun rebuilding Navassa’s Police Department from square one. The town went a period of time without any police. Since October, DeCotis has attempted to rebuild both staff and trust.

“Trust is definitely important and that’s a process,” he said. “So that’s not something that can be generated overnight. So I do believe it’s going to take some time to gain that trust back.”

With the area continuing to grow, DeCotis is moving the department from within Navassa’s Town Hall to a neighboring building, working to make the department more autonomous while fostering relationships within local law enforcement.

DeCotis continued, “The more people that come, unfortunately the criminal element follows that. Unless you have a Police Department of law enforcement agency to help answer that. Typically things go out of control and off the rails.”

The the short term: DeCotis plans to hire six full-time officers and some part-time officers. The long term: he hopes to grow the department along with the community, working together to keep Navassa a safe place and past incidents, like civilians impersonating officers, from being repeated.

“As far as the keys to the kingdom, I have those. And and incident such as that will not be repeated.”

DeCotis said the police department should be fully moved into its new building in the next 30 days.

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