Neighbors “totally shocked” by arrest

Published 10:15 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

By Staff
Former Belhaven mayor says Hayden was dutiful police chief
Staff Writer
BELHAVEN — Former Belhaven Police Chief George Hayden’s neighbors, and fellow Vietnam War vets, were “totally shocked” to see their longtime neighbor taken down by law enforcement officials on Monday night.
Doug Barnes, a resident of Smith Shores Road for 27 years, lives a few houses down from Hayden’s house, located at 40 Portside Road.
Barnes, a 65-year-old Army vet, would routinely wave to Hayden as the former police chief drove by in his black Chevrolet Suburban. Barnes said that Hayden always returned a neighborly wave.
Barnes said that Hayden and his family were not the most social of neighbors after moving into the community eight years ago, but can’t recall any problems or domestic disputes.
Another of Hayden’s neighbors, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “He stayed to himself all the time.”
The anonymous individual, also an Army vet who fought in the Vietnam War, said he would throw pig pickin’s in his backyard and invite all of the neighbors.
While most of the community was “minglin’, eatin’, drinkin’ and altogether lapping it up” at one of his frequently thrown pickin’s, Hayden was always a no-show, he said.
Hayden’s neighbors got the feeling something was up in their low-key community when law enforcement officials began staking out Hayden’s house on Sept. 5.
Barnes’ anonymous neighbor was equally suspicious of the shady vehicles.
Former Belhaven Mayor Charles O. Boyette, who was a flight surgeon in the Navy and Marine Corps, was equally surprised. Boyette was the town’s mayor when Hayden was hired as a lieutenant with the Belhaven Police Department in 2000.
The former mayor said that Hayden’s “credibility and background were quite good” when he joined the department.
A criminal background check on Hayden was performed by former Belhaven Town Manager Tim Johnson before Hayden was hired.
The former mayor said that all of the information received at the time of Hayden’s hire “shed no light on any problems.”
Hayden became Belhaven’s interim police chief on May 8, 2001, after the town’s former police chief, Melvin Smith, resigned.
Regarding Hayden’s job performance, Boyette said, “I will only say, George Hayden performed his duties well in Belhaven.”
Barnes said he was also impressed with the job Hayden did as Belhaven’s police chief, making his arrest even more surprising.