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Interim chief, major resign from Mocksville Police Department; accusations flying

On the job less than two days, Bobby West, interim chief for the Mocksville Police Department, resigned last week.

The next day, Robert D. Bennett, former police chief of Spencer and Tryon, was named interim chief.

A day after that, the highest ranking officer in the department, Major Koula Black, resigned.

West, former Cooleemee police chief, became the second interim chief to resign in recent weeks. Tim Parks, former Yadkinville Police Chief, resigned at the end of February because of “family obligations.”

Black was apparently upset at not being named interim chief for another time, according to her letter of resignation obtained by WXII-12 News, and said just that.

“Every second-in-command officer has stepped in as interim chief whenever the chief’s position was vacant, except for me,” WXII reported. She went on to say that it is because she is female.

“I withstood countless acts of sexual harassment and gender discrimination,” she said, adding that certain town board members used political power and lies to convince former officers to interfere with her employment.

She also accused West of not treating the staff well.

West and Lynn Trivette, interim town manager responsible for appointing police chiefs, disagreed.

West said it became obvious early on in the job that he could not attain his goals: to transform the department into a town asset instead of a liability; to provide a department in which residents could be proud; and to give the town board a chance to concentrate on other town business.

“I was looking forward to working with the new town manager once he arrived in May. His experience in law encorcement, along with mine, could have produced positive results for the Mocksville Police Department,” West said. “Unfortunately, I was immediately confronted with opportunists and resistance from police department personnel. I realized I would be unable to reach my goals under the current unfavorable working conditions.”

“The town has some tough decisions ahead concerning the police departmnent,” West said. “I wish the town and the residents of Mocksville all the best.”

Trivette issued a news release after the resignation letter was printed by WXII.

“The town … takes all complaints of wrongdoing by its employees seriously. The town has policies and procedures to deal with employee grievances. Last November, the interim town manager retained outside private investigators to look into the complaints made by Major Black in her letter of resignation.”

She said that investigation is continuing.

Under law, Trivette said that town board members cannot be involved in employee complaints or in supervising employees.

Capt. Robin Robbins and Major Daniel Matthews both retired in the past weeks. A detective resigned in early February, and another officer resigned on March 4, she said.

“The commissioners are resolved to see that all complaints of harassment are investigated and resolved in an equitable manner, according to our laws,” Trivette said.

Bennett, the new interim chief, began work last Thursday.

“Along with his extended 30 years police career, Interim Executive Officer Bennett brings a poised attitude, progressive leadership style, and a community approach with him to Mocksville,” said Trivette. “The staff can expect a smooth transition.”

“I am extremely honored for the opportunity to serve as the interim executive officer for the Mocksville Police Department,” he said. “I will work hard with the community and our leaders to keep Mocksville moving in a positive direction.”