08/15/12 — Ballree fired as chief of town Police Department

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Ballree fired as chief of town Police Department

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 15, 2012 1:46 PM

BOILING SPRING LAKES -- Two weeks after being suspended for alleged abuse of power, Boiling Spring Lakes police Chief Emmett Ballree has been fired by City Administrator Jeff Repp.

Ballree, former chief of police in Mount Olive, had been under suspension pending the completion of a town investigation of what had been an undisclosed complaint by a town resident.

Repp has since released his original letter of suspension dated July 27.

In that letter, Repp said Ballree allegedly told an on-duty officer to use a city-provided vehicle to carry Ballree's son from the chief's home to the son's place of work outside the town limits.

Boiling Spring Lakes is located just southwest of Wilmington and north of Southport.

"I want to thank Chief Ballree for his nearly five years of service to the citizens of the city, but after reviewing the facts of the investigation that I conducted and the direction that needs to be taken for the betterment of the department, I made the difficult decision to relieve the chief of his position and begin the process of advertising and selecting a new chief of police," Repp said in a prepared statement. "I will be advertising the position regionally and hope to have the new chief on board as soon as possible."

Repp said he would have no further comment since it is a personnel issue.

The town's investigation was not a part of an ongoing SBI inquiry into complaints against Ballree.

Ballree, in a June 11 email to members of his department, said allegations of possible obstruction of justice sparked the SBI investigation.

The email did not provide any specifics about the allegations, and SBI and Brunswick County district attorney's office officials have declined to comment.

In the email, Ballree called the allegations "unfounded" and said he had his own "opinion as to what and who" was behind them.

The SBI investigation was opened June 4 at the request of Jon David, district attorney for Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties, and Chief Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis.

David called the investigation a preliminary inquiry, the results of which would determine whether a full criminal investigation was warranted.

He said the county asked the SBI to open the inquiry after he was contacted on May 25 about "alleged criminal activity" involving Ballree.

Ballree served as Mount Olive police chief for 13 years before resigning in 2007 after town officials alleged he had used a town gas card to buy fuel for his personal vehicles. Ballree was cleared of the charges by a state Department of Justice Training and Standards committee.