Belhaven police chief to resign

Published 1:08 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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Fourteen months after he was named Belhaven’s newest Chief of Police, Chris Kelly is resigning to “explore other opportunities in law enforcement,” according to town officials.

Town officials have not set a date for his transition out of the police department. Kelly worked for the Belhaven Police Department for 13 years. He was promoted to Chief in early November. 

At this time there are no plans to close the police department, according to a press release from the town. “Protection of the citizens of the Town of Belhaven remains a priority of the Belhaven Police Department and Town Council,” the press release states. 

Town council held a special called meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 28 to discuss Kelly’s resignation in closed session. In open session, they “unanimously expressed their support of the Belhaven Police Department,” the Town of Belhaven shared.  

The town has enlisted the help of a consultant who specializes in law enforcement to determine what Belhaven can do to address public safety needs. “All options will be explored and considered as the staff, department, Town Council, and citizens work together to plan for the future needs of the community.” 

“The Town of Belhaven is fortunate to have a department of professional law enforcement officers who take pride in their work and their service to the Belhaven community,” the town shared. 

Kelly’s resignation comes at a time when towns nationwide face staffing shortages in law enforcement. In August of 2023, an idea to hire four officers to Belhaven’s police force was proposed to town council. Hiring four officers would double the department’s staff; that number included Kelly. 

Because Belhaven Police Department has less than five officers, they enlist assistance from Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to pick up uncovered shifts to ensure the town’s 1,400 residents are protected at all times. The police department receives an average of 125 calls per month, or about 1,500 calls per year, according to the police department. 

Beaufort County Sheriff”s Office said the Town of Belhaven has not contacted them regarding modifications in the coverage they provide.

“The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office has always supported the Belhaven Police Department when requested whether it be providing a deputy to back up their officers at a call or acting in a mutual aid capacity.  The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office also serves civil process in the Town of Belhaven.  This coverage is provided by the deputy assigned to the northeast zone of Beaufort County, which is where Belhaven is situated.  We will continue to work with the Belhaven Police Department as we have done in the past as they work through this process,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in an email to the Daily News.