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Business owner: Bailey lacks police coverage

Posted on September 22, 2021

Updated on September 23, 2021

Local news
The Piggly Wiggly in Bailey is shown at closing time Monday night. The store's owner is concerned about lack of police coverage in the town.

Lindell J. Kay | Enterprise

The Piggly Wiggly in Bailey is shown at closing time Monday night. The store's owner is concerned about lack of police coverage in the town.

Quote

I don't feel safe walking my dog."
Lisa Matthews, Bailey resident and Piggly Wiggly owner

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

BAILEY — The town’s only police officer will be on vacation next week.

Bailey started off the year with four officers. Former Police Chief Steve Boraski resigned in late February. Two other officers went to work at other agencies.

Interim Police Chief Cathy Callahan said she hasn’t had a vacation in two years or a day off in several months, so she is taking off a week.

During its August meeting, the Bailey Board of Commissioners approved the hiring of four part-time officers.

But that takes time, Joel Killion, the town’s police commissioner, said during the board’s Monday meeting.

‘CAN’T JUST HIRE ANYONE’

Killion said Callahan has done a phenomenal job running the department, handling all the paperwork and overseeing the hiring process for new officers.

Callahan said she has five applicants going through the process, but it’s been slow going at the state level. She said it would be about a month or so before the town could hire any of the applicants.

Mayor Thomas Richards said Bailey isn’t alone in being short-staffed.

“It’s not just Bailey,” Richards said. “You can’t get workers at Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, let alone police officers. I want good people. You can’t just hire anyone. You can’t just give a badge and gun to anyone and have them walk the streets of Bailey.”

Richards said he would speak to Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone to get dedicated deputies to patrol Bailey while Callahan is on vacation. But that might be difficult since the sheriff’s office has five deputies covering the entire county at night. Putting it into perspective, Bailey has around 600 people and Nash County has 95,000 people, Richards said.

Chief Deputy Brandon Medina of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office said Bailey Town Clerk Jeremy Crawford contacted him about coverage.

“We will be providing a deputy next week from Monday-Thursday; times are from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. $30 per hour,” Medina said. “We have two shifts with seven deputies and another two with six deputies. Training, comp time, vacation time and sick leave may lower the numbers every now and then.”

CONCERNS

Lisa Matthews, owner of Piggly Wiggly in Bailey and Elm City, told Bailey commissioners that as a business owner and resident, she’s concerned about a lack of police coverage.

“Customers need to feel safe,” Matthews said. “Callahan is doing a great job, but she’s only one person.”

Matthews said Bailey needs more of its own police officers, not just extra attention from the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.

Matthews related a story about the Piggly Wiggly in Elm City where the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services.

On June 21, Matthews said, a man hopped up on drugs charged through a plate-glass door, severely injuring himself. The bloodied man took most of his clothes off, got a drink, left the store and argued with a friend in the parking lot while employees and customers feared for their lives.

Deputies took 25 minutes to respond, arriving after the man had left, Matthews said.

The response time was actually nine minutes, according to records provided by Wanda Samuel, chief of staff for the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

Wilson County Emergency Communications dispatched two deputies to the Piggly Wiggly in Elm City on a fight call, which requires at least two deputies to respond due to safety protocols. The dispatch call went out at 6:41 p.m. and deputies arrived at 6:52 p.m.

Dispatchers had advised deputies that the individual had left the scene in a vehicle. Deputies, including the one assigned to Elm City, were searching for that vehicle while on the way to the Piggly Wiggly, and still arrived in nine minutes, Samuel said.

“The male in question was having a medical emergency at the time he ran into the store’s glass door, causing it to shatter,” Samuel said. “The person he left the scene with was attempting to restrain him and drove him to the hospital. Several people called 911 stating what they believed to have been a fight in progress that ended up being a medical emergency. There are no shortage issue involved. Elm City has two full-time deputies assigned to them, and the town has complete coverage. There are some calls that require two deputies to respond, which is what happened in this case. They arrived in a timely manner.”

Matthews, who lives in Bailey, said she doesn’t feel safe walking her dog.

A representative of Southern Bank added that bank officials are concerned about lack of police coverage in Bailey, especially since there was an attempted robbery at the bank two summers ago.

Callahan said there’s been no major crimes in town this year. She said businesses are safe, pointing to the fact that 72 business contacts and 74 store closing escorts accounted for the most police activity in August.

Callahan said it doesn’t help when people post on social media about when she’s not working. Killion added that he hoped the newspaper would show tact in its reporting of the situation.

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