Huntersville Board Agenda – 21 January 2020

The full agenda packet for Tuesday night’s town board meeting (no meeting tomorrow night because of the holiday) can be found here. Two pre-meetings at 5:00 and 5:15 (that should be live streamed), regular meeting starts at 6pm. It’s only a 30-page agenda packet for this meeting so if you ever wanted to review an entire packet and provide some questions/comments to the town board this would be the meeting to do so. Again, what’s most interesting is what’s NOT included on the agenda – any discussion about the 913 page, $150K investigative report into HPD that the town is refusing to release any information about to the public. Your tax dollars paid for it, but you’re not entitled to know anything about why our police department was being investigated and not a single elected official in Huntersville has spoken out against the town’s suppression of this report.

Of note:

  • Item 6.B. – HFD, Inc. Budget Request. It’s that time of year again already, when all the town departments and outside agencies like HFD, Inc. come before the town board to justify being awarded taxpayer dollars – $4.3 million just for HFD, Inc. last year, and without almost no oversight at all of how those monies are spent. The HFD, Inc. chief will appear before the town board and provide them a written report with updated stats from the last year along with a budget breakdown for the requested funding for FY 20/21 – so why is this report not included in the agenda packet so the town board and residents can review it BEFORE the meeting? Because that would allow for too much time for the board members or residents to review the figures and budget request ahead of time in order to properly prepare any questions that might need to be asked of the chief from the dais. It’s just $4 million or so of your money, no need to really dig into how the money will be spent. Transparency!!
  • Item 9.B. – Approve Conterra Fiber agreement. A contract for AT LEAST $89,000 in upfront costs (because we all know construction projects never go over budget) and recurring monthly charges of $900 (which is $10,800/yr) to provide for installation of fiber between HPD HQ and town center. So many questions about this item that need to be asked by your town board – here are a few I’d suggest asking to start. First – cui bono – who benefits? Where is the money for this project coming from – which line item in the HPD budget? Why not wait and include this item in the capital requests for HPD in the upcoming FY 20/21 budget, why the immediate need to move forward with this project now? What will this $900/month “maintenance fee” go towards, and will the town still have to pay for internet service with another third-party provider? If so, how much will those costs be and will that offset any alleged savings over the current $1,910 monthly fee being paid to CenturyLink? How did the town’s new IT Director, Larry Davis (a former Cornelius employee), determine this new fiber network was even needed after just being in Huntersville since July? Who else did Mr. Davis receive “informal quotes” from and why weren’t those quotes included in the agenda packet? Why does the contract with Conterra include three cameras with coordinates at Gilead/21, at Gilead in front of the hospital, and at Gilead/McCoy? Is this just another step in setting up the dark fiber infrastructure necessary to implement town-wide surveillance by HPD? Are there any conflicts between any town employee and Conterra that need to be disclosed?

More about the company HPD wants to go into business with that is based out of Charlotte. Conterra Networks is majority owned by Court Square Capital, a private equity firm with approximately $6 billion of assets under management, with the remaining ownership largely held by Conterra Networks’ management team.



Huntersville Board Agenda – 6 January 2020

The full agenda packet for tomorrow night’s town board meeting can be found here. Closed session pre-meeting at 5:00 with the town attorney to discuss a lawsuit filed by the town, regular meeting starts at 6pm. It’s a 236-page agenda packet for this meeting. Again, what’s most interesting is what’s NOT included on the agenda – any discussion about the 913 page, $150K investigative report into HPD that the town is refusing to release any information about to the public. Your tax dollars paid for it, but you’re not entitled to know anything about why our police department was being investigated and not a single elected official in Huntersville has spoken out against the town’s suppression of this report. And I’m sure the electeds and former electeds who pretend to care about transparency are going to be outraged that no copy of the lawsuit the board is going into closed session to discuss was included in the agenda packet. I requested a copy on Dec. 31 when the agenda was published and have yet to be provided a copy. But, this isn’t a complaint! I’m still #OneTownOneTeam all year in 2020!

Of note:

  • Item 8.A. – “Hunter House” rezoning request. Must be nice to still have property that the town didn’t forcibly take for a road project to request a rezoning for. Property owners directly across the street on Old Statesville can’t say the same. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 8.C. – A text amendment request by the LNEDC (aka, Ryan McDaniels) to yet again benefit new, big business in Huntersville to allow for larger signage. When is the last time the LNEDC did anything to benefit existing businesses in Huntersville? And in case you’re under the impression we live in a free society, just look at all the rules Huntersville has about putting up signs. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.A. – Final vote on the Oak Grove rezoning request. Town planning staff recommends approval, the planning board voted 6-2 against based on reasons the town staff found no issues with. Be sure to listen for any objective reasons provided by any town board members who vote against this rezoning. And if this project can’t get approval, will all those who have worked in opposition be willing to buy the property from the owners so it can remain undeveloped, pristine open space forever? #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.C. – The Ordinance Advisory Board needs to be shrinking, not growing. I agree with making a town board member nonvoting, but why would the town board increase membership on this advisory board that has become just another layer of bureaucracy and basically a mini-planning board? #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.D. – Consider approving the new Ranson/Rosedale Park master plan. $0 financial implications for a new town park?? Why is Parks and Rec staff allowed to put an item on the agenda and attempt to claim a new park is going to have $0 financial implications when that new park is proposed to have parking, restrooms, landscaping, multiple “play” structures and fitness equipment, not to mention the ongoing responsibility of Parks and Rec to maintain. Will any town board member inquire about the costs of this new park before voting to approve? #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 9.F. – Consider appointments to the “Public Art” commission. Just a reminder your local government is engaging in the arbitrary process of art criticism, which is totally never problematic at all. Also a reminder that the town board should immediately disband the “public art commission” and allow an art group similar to the Old Huntersville Historic Society model to form if enough citizens are even interested in such a group. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 10.D. – Just another $84K in taxpayer monies going to greenway planning. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 10.E. – Just more CDBG entanglement with the general government. And at what cost to the town? No town board member could even tell you what strings come attached with this funding. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Item 10.F. – Adopt Uniform Guidance Procurement Policy. Why is this new procurement policy under the consent agenda? Why are we just moving to adopt now? Why is the town being encouraged to use federal surplus equipment? How is this a “cost reduction” if it increases federal purchasing of excess equipment? Is this new policy tied to a specific project? Just a reminder it is never appropriate to include an item under the consent agenda if there is a single question about the item. #OneTownOneTeam
  • Items 10.G. & 10.H. – Two more public hearings for rezonings during the 3 February 2020 board meeting.



Huntersville Residents Still Not Being Told About HPD Investigation

An investigation into the Mooresville Police Department continues to have an impact. The most recent reporting indicates another high ranking member of MPD, who was also the original whistleblower, may be fired. Meanwhile in Huntersville, the same agency has concluded a similar investigation into the Huntersville Police Dept. and yet no one in town appears to knows anything about the report. The town manager has confirmed the 913 page report (14,000 pages including appendix/attachments) cost the taxpayers $150,000 and yet the public still knows nothing about the report or why the investigation was even done in the first place. This $150,000 was paid out of the HPD budget from “contract services.” If only someone had been calling for a line by line review of the HPD budget and the $700K+ in “contract services” that is never broken out by line item so that the taxpayers would have a better idea what the money is being used for…

The town board had an hour long closed session related to “personnel” preceding Monday night’s meeting, which I have to assume was to brief them on this report, but not a single staff member or town board member provided any overview or summary of their closed session briefing – because apparently us regular, un-elected residents don’t need to know the basis for or the results of an investigation into our police department. Mooresville has already had their chief resign, demoted two high ranking officers, and now apparently intends to fire a captain, all as a result of the ISS investigation into their department, but a similar investigation into HPD results in zero changes?

When are the residents of Huntersville going to learn any details about the ISS investigation into HPD?



HPD Chief Openly Defies Town Manager

Over the past weekend I saw that the Huntersville Police Department (“HPD”) was yet again using town resources to promote a private business – this time, HPD is promoting an Arizona based security company, The Knox Company, that sells rapid entry security boxes (a little safe that holds keys that only fire/police are supposed to be able to access so they don’t have to break your door down in case of an emergency) for the exterior of homes and businesses. The promotion can be found at the bottom of a registration page for an upcoming active shooter training HPD is hosting. I sent an email Saturday morning to the town manager and HPD Chief Bence Hoyle pointing out that HPD is yet again using town resources to promote a private business even after the town manager had emailed a Manager’s Directive to all town employees just two months ago on June 10 (after it was brought to the town manager’s attention that HPD was promoting a local gym and hosting a local CPA at HPD HQ for a seminar) telling all town employees to stop independently promoting private businesses using town resources unless such a promotion/advertisement had been referred to HR first so a bid process or request for proposals could be initiated related to the service or product.

Below is the email response I received from Chief Hoyle at 1:14 AM (yes, AM) Sunday morning.

I authorized it and have advised them to continue. It saves lives by allowing first responders to get into a dwelling faster. We have specific keys to those boxes and when we see those boxes we know how to get in without destroying things. CMPD, Huntersville Fire, and CMS use them as well. 

We partner with many vendors to improve lives and yes it is profitable for some Im sure. But we cannot work without our partners and we will continue to do so. We have stopped promoting golf tournaments because you didnt like it even though they were NOT for profit, and we will jump through hoops for partners that may only benefit a few, but when it comes to saving lives we will partner without hesitation. Citizens have a choice to use them or not, but you cannot expect an public private partnership to be one sided. Sue us and let the courts decide but i think it legal, justified, and a good thing for the community. 

The chief’s email speaks for itself, but I have a few thoughts.

His response not only makes clear he authorized the promotion of a private company in violation of the town manager’s directive, but that he intends to continue to do so in the future without hesitation when it comes to saving lives. (The chief provides no evidence of any lives in Huntersville being saved by a Knox product or any similar product.) This level of open defiance of a superior’s orders would never be tolerated if a lower ranking HPD officer or subordinate town staff member did the same thing. But, the chief is able to get away with such insubordination because he is an unelected bureaucrat with no fear of being disciplined because of his long-standing relationship with the town manager.

The chief’s citing of other agencies that use this product has nothing to do with his direct violation of the town manager’s directive. I didn’t question the use of this product in my email, I simply pointed out that promoting the product using town resources was wrong. This product is not unique – a quick online search for “commercial key box” brings up numerous other similar products designed by many of the top security brands in the country, many of which are far less expensive than the Knox version, so how did HPD decide to promote this brand over all others? (The models being pushed by HPD are between approx. $250-$320.) I shouldn’t have to point out to the chief that just because other agencies do something, doesn’t mean HPD needs to do it too – if CMPD jumped off an I-77 overpass would HPD jump off an overpass too?? Funny thing, he doesn’t list Cornelius PD as another agency using this product even though he was the chief there for over a decade.

The chief failed to provide any details about who else HPD partners with “to improve lives” and who is it profitable for and how much profit is being made, but this is information the town manager and town board should require the chief provide. Again, I didn’t question the practice of partnerships that work to reduce crime in Huntersville, I questioned the practice of using taxpayer resources to show preferential treatment by actively promoting specific private businesses to the exclusion of all others in violation of the town manager’s directive.

No, chief, HPD didn’t stop using HPD email to promote golf tournaments because I didn’t like it – the practice was stopped for two reasons: a) it was just plain wrong to use town resources to promote a golf tournament that was in no way related to Huntersville or HPD with an entry fee of $175 and no details on where the money goes, and b) the officer responsible for promoting said golf tournaments who is also a member of a NC LLC that runs a weekly cash golf league at Birkdale recently “resigned” from HPD and I’m guessing the rest of your officers have actual police work to keep them busy while on duty instead of sending emails about golf.

New chief, same as the old chief. Still hiding behind “saving lives” as a blanket justification for any action/expenditure without any evidence of any lives being saved by whatever action/expenditure is being pushed. No different than the prior chief using the same justification to waste taxpayer dollars on an armored vehicle that sits in a storage bay all year until it gets brought out for display only at National Night Out and a handful of other public events.

Maybe someone can help explain to me why exactly the town manager had to have this one individual as his chief of police and couldn’t even be bothered to do a national search, much less a regional search, for a new chief? Do the town manager and town board support our chief of police telling a resident asking a reasonable question about a town department openly violating a directive from the town manager to “sue us and let the courts decide?” Apparently so because not a word of protest was uttered by anyone at the dais Monday night even though they were all included on the entire email chain. It’s election season so I expect even less out of our local politicians than usual – it’s much easier to take that $1,000 campaign contribution from the SSPBA to keep quiet about problems at HPD than to actually take a stand for what’s right.

Huntersville deserves better. #AuditHPD.



HPD Officer Fails To Meet The New Standard Of Excellence

When is the town going to finally require a full, independent audit of the Huntersville Police Department? Why is a majority on the current town board not interested in verifying how the largest town department spends $13 MILLION of taxpayer dollars? HPD “surplus” equipment just floating around the internet for sale (just because a former town manager steals property from the taxpayers and “gives” it to you doesn’t make it any less stolen property) – no big deal, no need to ensure an accurate inventory, not like HPD keeps anything valuable or dangerous in their taxpayer paid-for inventory. Almost $700K in HPD “contract services” not broken out by line item in yet another budget, but the town board will go ahead and vote again to approve a budget Monday night that is less than transparent. When are the politicians (and candidates) in Huntersville going to stop worrying about what the SSPBA might say about them and instead start worrying about ensuring all HPD officers are held to the same standard and that all HPD policies and town personnel policies apply equally to every officer? Guess those $1,000 contributions the SSPBA hand out matter more than doing the right thing. How much did HPD screwing over the K9 officer cost Huntersville taxpayers and when is someone going to be held accountable for that situation? All that to say, why am I still wasting time writing all of these articles when nothing ever seems to change?

Last week I promised an answer to the question what a moving van, a local golf league, and the CMS Police Dept. have in common. In case the answer wasn’t obvious, it’s newly re-hired HPD Officer Tom Seifert (probably obvious to everyone except the HPD officer(s) responsible for investigating the recent “armed robbery” in the Stephens Grove neighborhood since it’s been two weeks now and there still isn’t any evidence any “armed robbery” took place but apparently the responsible officer(s) thinks it’s ok to allow neighbors to continue to worry about an armed robber on the loose… But I digress.).

According to HPD’s new standard of excellence, a single alleged violation of the town’s personnel policy or HPD policy is enough to justify disciplinary action against a long-time officer with no history of complaints or reprimands. Based on conversations with multiple HPD sources, Ofc. Seifert has used on-duty officers to perform personal tasks on multiple occasions, including as a moving crew for both himself and Lt. Latza and as bank-runners to make deposits at a local bank for the weekly golf league he helps to run at Birkdale. If using town equipment to promote a golf tournament unrelated to the town or HPD isn’t a possible violation of any town or HPD policy, surely using on-duty officers to perform personal tasks is worthy of investigation to determine if any town or HPD policies were violated by Ofc. Seifert or any other HPD officer who knew about or approved such activities. The new standard of excellence must be upheld!

HPD sources have told me that during Ofc. Seifert’s prior stint with HPD before leaving for the Mecklenburg Co. Sheriff’s Office he used on-duty officers he supervised at least twice as a moving crew. According to one source, Ofc. Seifert called him a few years back prior to his shift and advised him to wear shorts and a t-shirt to work the next day because he was going to be helping someone move. That someone ended up being Lt. Bryan Latza and on-duty HPD officers helped with his move from Cornelius to Huntersville (or possibly right across the Concord line since the move was a few years ago and the source recalled it being somewhere in the vicinity of Poplar Tent Rd.). Another source confirmed a similar experience when he, along with at least three other officers, helped Ofc. Seifert move a large amount of furniture from his house in Huntersville to his current house in Lincoln County. All while on the clock getting paid. Allegedly. Of course, nothing wrong with using your work pals to help you move, but us regular folks have to wait until after work or on the weekends for this kind of help. Must be nice to have taxpayers help defray your moving expenses. Allegedly.

In addition to using on-duty officers as movers, a source stated that on multiple occasions over the past few years Ofc. Seifert required them to perform personal tasks related to the “Birkdale Golf League.” What is the Birkdale Golf League? Based on its website, it appears to be an informal weekly golf league sponsored by Hickory Tavern and presented by Crossover Sports played at the Birkdale Golf Course in Huntersville and that requires an $80 league fee payable to Crossover Sports along with weekly fees to be paid in cash at the registration table prior to play for the evening. If you have any questions about the league rules or information about the league, you’re directed to contact Tom Seifert at a cell number or email address. And what is Crossover Sports? According to the NC Secretary of State’s website, it’s an LLC organized in 2006 for “promotions and online sports marketing” with three members listed on its most recent Annual Report – one of whom is Ofc. Seifert (although Seifert’s name doesn’t appear on the LLC documents until the 2011 Annual Report).

Multiple sources confirmed Ofc. Seifert spends a large amount of time during the work week doing work related to the Birkdale Golf League (I’m still waiting on a pending records request to confirm this information.). One source stated, “It was a running joke between some of us whenever we saw the Sergeant [Seifert] working on his laptop we knew we wouldn’t be getting much help from him until the golf scores were entered.” Another source told me Ofc. Seifert directed them to make deposits for him at a local bank (possibly the Suntrust at Sam Furr and Hwy 21, but the source couldn’t confirm, just that it was near the library around the Sam Furr/Hwy 21 intersection) while on duty on at least 5-10 occasions over the past few years and told me these deposits – which always reportedly contained “stacks of cash” – were related to the golf league based on the deposit slips that were always filled out by Ofc. Seifert. The same source also said they had observed Ofc. Seifert frequently using a subordinate to make golf league “score sheets” while on duty for the various weekly pairings. Allegedly.

Of course, nothing wrong with a group of buddies from all over the North Mecklenburg area getting together on a Thursday evening for some socializing and a round of golf in a cash league run by an LLC with an HPD officer as a member of the LLC and primary organizer of the weekly golf league. But, seems to me certain sections of the town’s personnel policy or a few HPD policies like Directive 1.40 might say otherwise.

Oh, and the CMS Police reference, that’s where Ofc. Seifert is interested in working next according to a source who told me they were contacted by a friend at the CMS Police Dept. asking about their experience with Ofc. Seifert at HPD. Of course, nothing wrong with someone trying to better themselves with a new job opportunity, but I thought the town board had fixed all the issues with officer retention after the pay raise they gave HPD last year? If so, why do we still have experienced officers seeking employment with other law enforcement agencies?

Now all we need is a brave officer to formally complain about any of the above and maybe we’ll see some changes. Maybe even the same brave officer who found the bravery to complain about the K9 officer a few weeks after his allegedly discriminatory remark might find the same bravery to complain about any of the above? I’m sure ISS would be perfectly willing to take more taxpayer money to investigate yet another situation at HPD.

Like I wrote last week, this isn’t rocket science folks. When people are held to different standards, morale suffers. How many patrol officers get to use other on-duty officers as a moving crew or run their side gigs on company time without fear of being disciplined? How many supervisors know or should know about personal work being done on company time or town equipment being used for personal business, or officers being used for personal benefit or for outside employment, or ongoing violations of town or HPD policies, or clear conflicts of interest, or otherwise failing to meet the new HPD standard of excellence, but are choosing to remain silent?

As always, if you have information you would like to share your privacy will be protected. For example, information like credit cards that are issued to supervisors being used to purchase SWAT equipment and other items outside of the normal budget process? I’d really be interested in learning more about that program.


Holding HPD Accountable To Their New Standard Of Excellence

There’s a new chief at the Huntersville Police Department and he’s enforcing a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to actual violations (or even just alleged violations that are used as a pretext to get rid of someone…) of HPD policy or the town’s personnel policy. I applaud the new standard of excellence being enforced at HPD and look forward to the chief fairly and objectively applying this standard across the department. If a single alleged violation of the town’s personnel policy is enough to justify disciplinary action and removal of a long-time officer with no history of complaints or reprimands, then surely a decade-long involvement by an HPD officer with a company separate and apart from HPD might possibly warrant some investigation into whether any violations of HPD policy or the town’s personnel policy have ever occurred, right? But more on Crossover Sports, LLC in the next article…

HPD Officer Tom Seifert was recently re-hired by the town back in December after a stint with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. According to HPD sources, Officer Seifert sent an email on or about May 1, 2019 to “HPD All Employees” using his town email account promoting the “42nd Annual NC Law Enforcement Open” golf tournament (an annual event that appears to rotate throughout the state) to be held August 12, 13, and 14, 2019 at Cowan’s Ford Golf Course. August 12, 13, and 14 are weekdays.

According to the promotional materials attached to the email, this golf tournament is not advertised as being sponsored by HPD or limited to HPD personnel, nor is it advertised as benefiting the town or HPD in any way. So why is town equipment being put to personal use to advertise an event not related to town business and that could advance the financial or other private interest of themselves or others?

The entry fee for this tournament is listed as $175 (limited to the first 120 paid entrants – for a total of $21,000 in entry fees), which includes golf, on course beverages and snacks, a goody bag, and entry to a “Hospitality Room” at the Four Points by Sheraton on Northcross Dr. in Huntersville open each night at 6:30 with food and beverages provided by the tournament. Sounds like quite a deal for $175!

The tournament entry form states that questions or comments regarding the event can be directed to Officer Seifert at either his email address or the only phone number he lists on the HPD Phone List.

What’s not clear from the golf tournament promotional materials is where the money goes. Checks can be made out to the “42nd NC LEO” and mailed to a residential address in Stanley, NC. There is no website listed for this “42nd NC LEO” group found on the promotional materials and no corporate entity with a similar name was located based on a search online or at the Secretary of State’s website. There is a public facebook group – North Carolina Law Enforcement Annual Golf Tournament – listed on the promotional materials, but there is no additional website or organizational information at the facebook page. But, there is a nice photo of Officer Seifert holding his Overall Champion trophy from the “40th Annual NC Law Enforcement Open” golf tournament. Guess we all know who the best golfer at HPD is!

$21,000 is just the money raised from entry fees, but there are also sponsorship opportunities advertised up to $1,000 to be a sponsor for the Awards Banquet, along with a request from members of the community for donations. The promotional materials only state that any “unused” portion of the donations will be donated to two named charities – but what about the “used” portion of the fees and remainder of the donations and sponsorship monies, where does that money go?

I’m confident this annual golf tournament is a wonderful opportunity for law enforcement and emergency personnel statewide to come together on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the work week for some fun times on the golf course (and at the Sheraton Hospitality Room each night!) and surely some of the “unused” portion of the donations do indeed go to wonderful causes and charities. But, organizing a golf tournament of this size definitely requires a large time commitment. If Officer Seifert has already used town equipment at least once on May 1 to advertise an event not related to town business and that could advance the financial or other private interest of himself or others, is it possible he’s used town equipment for similar reasons before or after that date? Let’s hope not because under the new standard of excellence at HPD even a single actual (or alleged) violation of HPD policy or the town’s personnel policy could result in immediate disciplinary measures.

This isn’t rocket science folks. When people are held to different standards, morale suffers. Another pay raise band-aid isn’t going to fix this problem.

Check back next week for part 2 to find out what a moving van, a local golf league, and the CMS Police Dept. have in common.


Chief’s Departure Signals Positive Opportunity For HPD

After almost five years on the job, Huntersville Police Department Chief Cleveland Spruill provided his resignation to the town last Friday, December 14. He started with HPD in May 2014 after a long career in law enforcement that began in 1987. People immediately started asking why the seemingly sudden resignation, but rumors of the chief’s potential departure have been circulating for weeks now, especially over at HPD HQ. Another rumor that I still haven’t been able to confirm yet is that the town is considering giving Chief Spruill the Bearcat as a retirement present.

In case you’re worried about how the chief is going to pay the bills, don’t. He’ll likely be receiving his Special Separation Allowance (“SSA”) courtesy of Huntersville taxpayers once his retirement is official next month. What is the SSA you’re probably asking? Just a special benefit provided to eligible retired law enforcement in NC to see them through to social security eligibility when they reach the age of 62. Huntersville taxpayers are currently paying for this benefit for two other individuals.

So why does the chief’s departure signal a positive opportunity for HPD? Because the town now has a great opportunity to finally fix the morale problems that have been plaguing the department for years now, even before Chief Spruill was named chief. As I’ve already pointed out, low pay isn’t what’s wrong at HPD if you talk to the rank and file officers. And it appears the town has finally decided to do something about the real problems at HPD by naming an interim chief from outside the ranks of the current HPD leadership. The same problems I’ve written about before still apparently exist at HPD (abuse of surveillance equipment, abuse of the take home vehicle policy, abuse of overtime, etc.) so Interim Chief Bence Hoyle is going to have his hands full when he takes over in early January.

Sources within HPD have been reaching out to me since the news of Chief Spruill’s resignation last week to share some thoughts. No officer is still willing to speak on the record for fear of retaliation – which is justified since from what I hear command staff has been doing everything they can to find out who all is talking to me.

Regarding the breaking news last week – one source stated, “Most of us were jumping for joy when the news was made official. Now a few more in leadership need to be next on the chopping block.”

Regarding the next chief – the same source stated, “The worst possible mistake would be to just promote from within the current leadership ranks. The town needs to cut ties with most of the ranking command staff and maybe even demote or fire some of the lieutenants.”

Regarding Spruill’s time as chief – another source stated, “When Spruill came in, things temporarily improved, but he allowed command staff too much control so the problems under Potter continued. Spruill eventually seemed to disconnect from the department and many rank and file officers for unknown reasons. He let too many in command just tell him what he wanted to hear, while those same command staff undermined him behind his back as if they wanted to set him up for failure. These same people will now do whatever it takes to protect themselves when the interim chief starts in January.”

Here’s a suggestion for the incoming interim chief – instead of wasting time trying to find out who all is talking to me, why not spend time attempting to fix what’s wrong with the department and then no one will have a reason to talk to me. Might I suggest something easy like an anonymous, legitimate survey amongst all the officers as a start to get some honest feedback? For example, feedback like this from another source about HPD HQ being used like a free afterschool daycare. “How is it fair that Major Graham, who makes over $100K, has his kid dropped off at HQ in the afternoons after school and is allowed to hang out for 2-3 hours and run all over the place? If this kid gets hurt at HQ who is responsible? What if a criminal gets loose or if a major call comes in – who is going to babysit the kid while we’re all responding to the call?”

How is that fair, indeed. When leadership gets to play by different rules, whether at HPD or any other company/organization, we all know what effect that has on morale.

The town has a great opportunity to finally fix some of the problems at HPD when the interim chief starts in a few short days. And the town manager is going to have a very important decision to make when it comes to naming a full-time replacement for Chief Spruill in the next few months. Let’s hope we keep moving Huntersville in the right direction with a chief who will finally hold all officers to the same standards and require command staff to be accountable for their actions and the actions of their subordinates.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Huntersville.