Surf City Police Chief Mike Halstead has retired effective immediately following a Tuesday emergency meeting called about a Facebook post he made.
Major Ron Shanahan will take over as interim chief.
Town leaders and Halstead have agreed on severance pay following his decision to retire.
According to Town Manager Larry Bergman, Surf City Mayor Zander Guy called the emergency meeting in reference to Halstead’s post he made to his personal page on Sept. 3.
Bergman said he spoke with Halstead about the post after it was brought to his attention.
He said he reminded him “that as public employees we are often held to higher level of scrutiny and that even if it is a personal social media account and despite not associating himself directly to the Town in his posting, that some will draw the connection.”
Bergman also said the chief is apologetic for how his statements have been interpreted, and that he removed the post on his own accord.
The emergency meeting was held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Surf City Town Hall.
Wednesday morning a group gathered outside of the Police Department holding signs that said “Honk for Halstead” and “We Support Chief Halstead.”
“I was shocked and disgusted with our Town Council,” said Brandy Cuff, who was part of the protest. “No other words, just disgust.” She said Halstead was unfairly forced to retire. “We have freedom of speech,” Cuff said.”Someone who spent 35 years of dedicated service can’t post his opinion, or have an opinion about that? Someone who has to watch his fellow brothers in uniform be murdered, he can’t have an opinion? It makes no sense.”
Cuff also said it was unfair that there was no notice about Tuesday’s Emergency Meeting. Cuff said many community members would have come out to support Halstead, had they known about the meeting. “They gave no notice to the members of this community that have supported him for 17 years. They threw him under the bus and turned their backs on him.”
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