04/19/06 — Fremont police chief takes oath of office

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Fremont police chief takes oath of office

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 19, 2006 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- Wayne Schwark was sworn in Tuesday night as Fremont police chief as his wife, Edna, held the Bible.

Mayor Devone Jones, whose tiebreaking vote snapped a 3-3 deadlock by the town board during an earlier meeting, administered the oath in Town Hall and then pinned the chief's insignia on Schwark's collar.

The 45-year-old Schwark, who had been the acting chief for two months, succeeded Ben Reid Jr., who resigned in February, ending a 41-year career with the town's police department.

Near the end of the 90-minute board meeting, Schwark was questioned by Alderman Billy Harvey about a shooting binge about 10 days ago in town.

"We need to get a handle on it," Harvey said, "and find out who did it."

Schwark said he was working on the incident in which no one was injured and only property was damaged. He said it was a high priority for his department.

Alderman Leroy Ruffin said the shooting occurred in his district and he had received many phone calls about the 12 to 15 shots fired.

"People are scared to death," Ruffin said.

In another police matter, Schwark said the town's proposed new curfew ordinance would keep teenagers from wandering the streets late at night. The chief asked for a 9 p.m. curfew for those between 12 and 17 and either 8 or 8:30 p.m. for younger children. Later the chief said he would accept a 9:30 p.m. curfew for all children.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said the proposed ordinance was patterned after Goldsboro's.

"If we want to clean up areas in town, the police department needs new tools," McDuffie said.

The ordinance would have exceptions for children with parents or guardians, in school or church activities or in emergencies.

Harvey admitted that Fremont had a problem, but he said the town did not have enough recreation opportunities for teens.

"The biggest complaint I get is from the parents who say the kids are out all night," Schwark said.

If a child is stopped after the curfew, the ordinance states the punishment is for the parents to get a written warning ticket. Any subsequent violation would call for a fine and $110 in court costs.

McDuffie said the proposed ordinance would be sent to the town's lawyer, Jim Cauley of Wilson, for review. The board may adopt an ordinance in its May 16 meeting.