Audit leads to Leland police officer relieved of duty, questions about accountability

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Missing documents. Officers not up to date on their training. In one case, it was so severe, an officer was relieved of his duties. That’s some of what state regulators uncovered during a recent audit of documents and training files at the Leland Police Department.

Every single one of the 31 full-time and reserve officers had something missing from their files. In some cases, even the most basic information was not there.

For five officers, fingerprints weren’t on file and citizenship information was missing.

Six officers were missing psychological exams.

In three cases, the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education Training and Standards Commission couldn’t read the birth certificates.

Plus, 25 officers had incomplete background investigations.

Now, on to mandatory training. One officer is missing 10 hours. Four officers remain eight hours short. Another is four hours short. Four other officers are two hours short. Plus, there were at least 25 instances where a training certificate was on file, but there was no proof of the hours of training.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery is what Training and Standards had to say about Ofc. John Blasingame. He did not complete his mandatory in-service training in 2009 due to his military commitment. He received a waiver, but the commission has not received the duty request.

Since he has not completed his 2009 training, Blasingame is not authorized to perform any law enforcement duties until duly authorized to do so by the Criminal Justice Standards Division. Put blunty, Training and Standards said Ofc. Blasingame must be relieved of his duty immediately.

Two weeks ago, we asked Leland Town Attorney John Wessell about Blasingame’s employment status. Wessell denied that Blasingame’s status had ever changed, even though Training and Standards had told the Leland Police Department to send him home October 6.

We called Police Chief Tim Jayne to get his response about the lack of adequate record keeping within his department, but he quickly said he was in the middle of something and would try to call back. He has not.

We then tried Leland Town Council. Mayor Walter Futch, Pat Batleman and Herbert Barnes did not call back. Martha Currie was on her way out of town. She says she has begged Mayor Pro Tem Brenda Bozeman for an independent review of the police department, but she won’t do it.

Bozeman said she had not seen the full report, but said she would get either Jayne or Town Manager Bill Farris to call us back. Farris did in fact call back and told us who was responsible for keeping up with the records.

“From my perspective it would be two people in charge,” Farris said. “One of them was Chief (Osey) Sanders from 2005 up to 2008, and then Chief Jayne from that point on.”

Chief Jayne says 85 of 89 of those deficiencies have been corrected. Now the question remains what about the arrests or tickets written by those officers who were not up to date on their training?

We ended up going in circles.

The Department of Justice, speaking for Training and Standards, referred us to the District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney’s office told us Training and Standards would have to answer that question. DA Jon david was unavailable, because he was in meetings.

Even though Training and Standards told the police department on October 6 that Ofc. Blasingame must be relieved of his duty immediately, the town manager and attorney have no record of that. They told us Blasingame was suspended for one month without pay on October 24, but Farris says that is for an unrelated incident. No one, though, would tell us what that was.