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Entire North Carolina police department suspended with pay after chief, lieutenant arrested

An entire North Carolina police department was placed on paid administrative leave because the chief and a lieutenant were allegedly double-dipping by moonlighting with a trucking company while also claiming to perform official police work. ( Diy13/Getty Images)

An entire police department in Southport, North Carolina, is on paid administrative leave after the chief and a lieutenant were arrested. The two were allegedly double-dipping by working a second job while they were still on the clock with the police department, WECT-TV reported.

What were the charges?

Chief Gary Smith, 46, and Lt. Michael Christian Simmons, 48, were both charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, willful failure to discharge duties, and obstruction of justice, according to reports.

Smith and Simmons were allegedly driving overnight shifts for a local trucking company while they wrote daily activity for the Southport Police Department, state investigators said.

While working for the trucking company, Smith and Simmons regularly traveled out of the town and out of the country, David said.

District Attorney Jon David told media that tips from law enforcement officers led to a joint investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI that began on April 4.

Smith was taken into custody Thursday and booked into the Brunswick County Detention Center under a $10,000 unsecured bond, the report states. He was released after posting bail.

Simmons was taken into custody during a Thursday afternoon news conference announcing about the investigation.

The investigation included the execution of search warrants at the police department and the trucking company, the report states.

"It is indeed that I get before you today with a heart laden with grief for all these events that happened today," Mayor Jerry Dove told media. "It was a shock to me to hear all these, being a former chief and knowing the officers that worked in that department and hired at least half of them."

Who is policing the city?

While the police department is suspended, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office will provide all law enforcement for the city.

"We will be relying on (the sheriff's office) substantially on the road ahead to step into the void and provide a police presence," David said. "The sheriff's office already has overlapping jurisdiction with Southport. It's not new that they would be patrolling these streets. They know the lay of the land and I'm very confident that citizens will be well protected."

Although the entire police force was put on administrative leave, not all of them are guilty of any wrongdoing, David said.

Some of the officers placed on leave are the ones who turned in Smith and Simmons.

"A lot of these officers have done absolutely nothing wrong. Some of them are the ones that first came forward," David said in the report. "This stain should not be extended to the officers who take seriously their duty to serve and protect."

Southport is a city of about 3,700 located along the coast of southeastern North Carolina, where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

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