Amy Vaughan-Jones’ statement

Published 9:03 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

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Following is a statement read by board member Amy Vaughan-Jones at the September Mocksville Town Board meeting.

“I would like to take time to address information that was offered to the citizens of Mocksville either in the media or on social media that do not reflect factual events.

“With respect to my role as a town board member, I fully understand my role having been being elected in 2013 and again in 2017. I have served with honesty, integrity, transparency and a strong moral compass representing the citizens of Mocksville over these years. I was voted by the people to represent their interests for the town and to voice their concerns. Per the School of Government publication, ‘County and Municipal Government in North Carolina, Second Edition’, these are a few highlighted areas that are essential to governing as a town board member in the State of North Carolina.

“Mocksville is a council-manager form of government with five board members elected at large. Decisions of the board must be made in an open forum and votes recorded for the public unless the mattter at hand is one that should be moved to executive session (personnel issues, legal issues, etc.). Decisions of the board must be made in an open forum and votes recorded for the public knowledge unless the matter at hand is one that should be heard in executive session.

“Per the School of Government the roles for a town board member include:

“In Chapter 3, page 39, County and City Governing Boards,

“Expectation 1: The governing board sets direction by routinely monitoring and evaluating local government’s ability to administer and provide efficient and effective public services. The police department is in fact, a public service.

“Expectation 2: The governing board acts as a body by making clear to the public that decision-making power rests with the majority, not with individual board members.

“Expectation 7: The board freely gives and seeks feedback by regularly reviewing and monitoring the local government’s finances, programs and services. This would include all departments within town government.

“Additionally, per NC GS 160-A-148, the manager shall be the chief administrator of the city. The manager is responsible for the hiring, the disciplining and the removal of all administrative personnel, Pg. 56, Chapter 4 County and Municipal Government, UNC-School of Government.

“Further I also would like to share at our last board meeting all five board members agreed to an outside agency doing an evaluation of the police department to make sure that we were listening to the complaints of the officers and the citizens to determine if the department was operating effectively and efficiently.

“Regarding my position as a Mocksville Town Board member, the residents of Mocksville are encouraged to share concerns with respect to the operations of any department within the town. Numerous complaints were shared with me regarding the fatality on North Main Street in April. With the complaints that came out of the Sgt. Butter’s Facebook page, I contacted the town manager to share the concerns of the citizens as to the insensitivity to the issue and whether this was the correct forum for this type of information to be shared. In addition, the comments that were posted under the Facebook post all commented about the police department not enforcing the speed limit through that section of town. My concern expressed to the town manager noted that the town certainly did not need to draw attention to the fact that many were seeing the police in a negative light considering we had just settled a $4.1 million lawsuit within the police department.

“In late June, additional complaints were voiced to me concerning a photo that was posted on Sgt. Butter’s Facebook page that showed Butters on top of a warrant with the name of the person being served the warrant, their address and Social Security number. Many were shocked to see that this type of information was being shared on the social media site. Again, I expressed my concerns to the town manager with regards to the page and its appropriateness.

“On Aug. 10 there was another Facebook post that was of Jeffrey Epstein and the caption below the photo said ‘Clintos win Again.’ The town manager was notified by many board members of complaints and he removed the Facebook page of Sgt. Butters due to problems controlling the Facebook page within the department. Ultimately this responsibility was that of the chief’s to know what information was being shared from his department to the public in a social media forum.

“Also during the past few months, several officers within the department had approached several town board members with complaints that involved hostile work environments to them, bullying, unfair write ups, the health and welfare of all officers in the work environment as well as officers leaving the department for other employment in other law enforcement agencies. Additionally, there have been over the past four months, four officers resign and leave the MPD. Questions have also been raised in the past several months by citizens as to the patrol hours, lack of officers patrolling and the number of officers who work daily and their responsibilities.

“Again I would like to mention that at our last town board meeting, all five board members agreed to conduct the outside evaluation to determine future needs for our police department going forward.

“I would like to publicly state that I am not in favor of dissolving the MPD but I am open to hearing the results of the evaluation and am ready to make changes that are suggested to help us have an effective and efficient police department. My text message to the town manager reflecting dissolving the police department was made at a time of tremendous frustration considering I had approached the manager for many months to address the issues within the department and the town was continuing to field complaints from citizens and many of these issues should have been addressed months prior.

“In the past week, I have been called out for micromanaging and not knowing or understanding my role on the board. I can assure and based on the facts presented I have followed my role as offered by the UNC School of Government. With degrees in psychology and political science as well as a master’s in education, I have followed the recommended best practices of a town board member as set forth by the School of Government.

“I was born and raised in Mocksville, I am a supporter of rescue animals and have four rescue dogs at my home  and my family did have a cat that was rescued but that was lost several years ago likely to coyotes. I am a teacher and I have a teaching moment to share with my middle school students concerning the effects of cyber bullying and how that does not work to problem solve with success. I teach my students that words that are shared on social media may be deleted but they can always be found in cyber space and they should be conscious of harassment and cyber bullying laws. Prosecution can be a by product of their actions which is a lesson that we all need to hear and abide by.

“Finally, I would like to close by saying that there has been a great deal of misinformation that has been offered to the public that is not based on facts and has been driven by many reasons but mostly reasons of hate, anger and political gain. I would have appreciated the opportunity to share the facts with the editor of our local paper prior to the editorial being written so he could have heard two sides of the story. I am asking you to stop with false facts, rumors and innuendos; we should treat each other with respect and kindness as we look for answers for the best interest of our town moving forward.”