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Belhaven hires

By Staff
new police chief
Town spends $48,000
on services provided
by a group of deputies
By GREG KATSKI
Staff Writer
Belhaven’s new top cop is coming to the town Monday.
The new chief will be introduced to the public at the beginning of the Belhaven Town Council’s meeting Monday night, interim Town Manager Guinn Leverett said Friday. Because the hiring has yet to be approved by the N.C. Department of Justice, the new chief will carry the title “designated chief of police,” Leverett said.
The new chief is transferring from a sheriff’s office to the Belhaven Police Department, Leverett said. As is the case with such a transfer, the new chief is subject to the N.C. Department of Justice’s training and standards, according to Leverett.
With pressure coming from Belhaven residents, the town decided to introduce the new chief ahead of schedule, Leverett said.
The town’s current designated chief of police, Harry Meredith, who is chief deputy with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, is satisfied with the performance of deputies working in Belhaven.
Meredith took over as the town’s designated chief of police in the wake of Leverett’s decision to fire former chief George Hayden on March 20. A law-enforcement contract between the town and Beaufort County was reached within a week of Hayden’s dismissal, according to Meredith. As a condition of the contract, deputies with the sheriff’s office are paid overtime for their work in Belhaven.
From the day the contract was put in place until June 30, the end of fiscal year 2007-2008, Belhaven paid the county $48,000 for deputies’ services, according to county financial records.
Deputies are paid by the hour for their work in Belhaven. They fill out time sheets to keep track of overtime, Meredith said.
The time sheets are given to the county’s financial officer, Jim Chrisman, who compiles the hours and determines the money earned by each deputy, Meredith said. Deputies are paid on a monthly basis, he said.
The patrol work done by the deputies in Belhaven is “strictly volunteer,” Meredith said.
Considering the hard work that it takes to be a deputy, he said, “it’s the only way to do it.”
Factors considered by Meredith when choosing a volunteer to patrol the town include fatigue, hours worked and level of stress.
Leverett is thankful for the extra time put in by the deputies.
Cooperation among the town and sheriff’s office has been exceptional, Leverett said.
Meredith agrees with Leverett.
More importantly, according to Meredith, the town hasn’t seen any increase in crimes.
Belhaven Town Councilman Steve Carawan praised the deputies’ professionalism.