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City manager offers full support for police, chief

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In the wake of a crime-fighting proposal floated by two elected officials, City Manager Lane Bailey says he has full faith in Police Chief Jerry Stokes and the city’s police officers.

Working independently of their boards, Salisbury City Councilman Kenny Hardin and Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce have explored the idea of having Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten take over the Salisbury Police Department.

Other than in news reports, the idea has not been discussed publicly. Multiple county and city officials, including Bailey, said they have not been approached privately about it either.

Responding to a news story about the idea, Bailey on Thursday said he is proud of the job that Salisbury police officers are doing under difficult circumstances. Bailey said he will meet with every shift at the Police Department to express his gratitude for the officers’ work.

Bailey said he met with multiple shifts of police officers on Thursday. During that meeting, Bailey said, he was told “stuff like this doesn’t help with recruitment,” “stuff like this makes our job harder” and “it just doesn’t help the morale.”

He said police officers also expressed support for the chief.

“They are working under extremely challenging circumstances,” Bailey said.

He added that the city is grateful for the support that the county government has offered to the Police Department. In December, county and city governments signed an agreement allowing off-duty sheriff’s deputies to work overtime as police officers.

Bailey said city leaders realize that there is a violent crime issue. He said the city is working hard to address violent crime with all resources available.

In addition to recruiting efforts, the city has reached out for help that can be offered by state and federal agencies — including cold-case investigators, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron 704-797-4246.

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