Spencer set to hire two police officers as another departs

Published 12:01 am Friday, March 4, 2022

SPENCER — Spencer has two police officers ready to be hired, but it also recently lost another member of the force.

Town Manager Peter Franzese said the officer who left is no longer in law enforcement and is pursuing a different profession. The two officers waiting to come onboard are still undergoing the intense background check process for law enforcement but are on track to start by the end of the month.

The departing officer indicated he would like to remain on reserve rather than transitioning out of the department entirely.

Phillip Brown, the department’s most-recent hire, recently finished his field training and is now able to patrol on his own.

One of the department’s school resource officers has also returned to patrol after another officer completed training and was placed in schools. The department provides SROs for North Rowan high and middle schools.

“They supplement that with off-duty SROs,” Franzese said, noting that is a recent change in the school district after a shooting at a high school basketball tournament in December.

The Post reported the department was down by about half its allotted officers in November. This prompted the town to start an agreement with Rowan County Sheriff’s Office that would allow use of sheriff’s deputies to cover shifts. That agreement is ongoing.

Chief Mike James, a former N.C. State Highway Patrol major who came out of retirement in 2010 to take the job, stayed for 11 years before retiring from the department in November. He is currently running for sheriff in Davidson County.

Department staff have been actively recruiting from basic law enforcement training classes at local community colleges and recently the town began posting openings on social media in addition to its website.

Franzese said the town has begun its search for a new chief as well. The town consulted with Triad Regional Council to formulate the search.

Franzese said the town started early this year collecting feedback from police staff, elected officials and the chief’s advisory board to develop a candidate profile. The job was posted on the town’s website at the end of February and the town will begin reviewing candidates on March 28 with the goal of beginning the hiring process with a candidate in April or May.

Franzese said a survey recently sent out to residents does not address the search. “At this point there’s not a committee. The town clerk and I have worked with our consultant so far, but as the process goes forward a second process will involve bringing in folks to serve on panels,” Franzese said.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

email author More by Carl