Candor, NC -- A recording of a closed door meeting in the Town of Candor has sparked more controversy in the community. During the December 2011 meeting, commissioners discussed their plans to fire four of the town's five police officers.
On the tape, Candor Commissioner Wayne Holyfield suggests firing the officers and then mentions that he had spoken to Montgomery County Sheriff Dempsey Owens. Holyfield says Owens told him he would help cover the town if the officers were fired.
In addition, Holyfield makes another statement about the sheriff on the tape: "Dempsey wanted to take the whole town. He'd take the whole town and give you a whole price. But, I'm not for that. I want the town to have a police department," Holyfield says on the recording.
Sheriff Owens told WFMY News 2 he had no idea Candor was about to gut its police department.
"I knew I didn't have the personnel to cover those kinds of shifts. So, I think that was something they didn't think out like they needed to," Owens said. "It sounds like they did throw me under the bus...I promised to give them coverage if they needed something. I didn't plan on giving them a 24-hour officer dedicated to the town of Candor. I told them I'd help them out."
When WFMY News 2's Mark Geary asked Owens, "Did you know they were going to fire these officers?" Owens responded, "No, sir, I did not. Didn't have any idea."
On the recording, you can hear Commissioner Phillip Hearne protest the firings.
"They don't deserve that just because somebody don't like 'em. It's not right. You know what I'm saying? It's just not right. I'm not going to support it," Hearne said.
The town's attorney was not in the meeting. However, town management consultant Ron Niland was there. He pleaded with the commissioners over and over again to be cautious before they fired anyone.
Niland says,"I don't know of any organization or anywhere that I would expect this without written warnings, without written reprimands, without....again, I'm just speaking as an individual here. I'm sure in your job, you wouldn't want to be terminated like this without cause."
After all the warnings from the town management consultant, the commissioners who voted to fire the officers didn't really respond.
Instead, commissioners started asking questions about who would be responsible for collecting the officers' equipment.