Maxton police chief tells commissioners how department has grown and how it serves the community

Tomeka Sinclair, The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C.
·4 min read

Mar. 17—MAXTON — The commissioners here got a one-year update Tuesday on the police department's progress under Chief Na'Shayla Nelson's leadership.

Since she joined the force a year ago, the Maxton Police Department has hired five more officers and promoted veteran officers, Nelson said during the regular meeting of the town's Board of Commissioners.

Department leadership has helped get the Maxton force to 100% compliance with state regulations and guidance, and officers have participated in a series of training throughout the year, she said.

The department also has secured more than $100,000 in grant funding, the chief said.

"My mission when I first started here was to be more active in the community," Nelson said.

The department has hosted three food drives, feeding more than 1,000 families, and continues to provide supplies for senior residents on a regular basis, collected coats for children at R.B. Dean Elementary School and participated in the Shop with a Cop program.

The department also has focused on meeting the needs and "concerns" of the community in the past year, Nelson said.

"We are working with the community," Nelson said. "We hear your concerns, and we are out here trying to push towards change."

Moving forward, Nelson hopes to reestablish the town's Community Watch. Anyone interested in joining the watch should contact Nelson.

After completing her presentation Nelson was met with a round of applause.

In other police news, Officers Patrick Hunt and Christopher Persons were presented at Tuesday's Board Commissioners meeting with Certificates of Appreciation in recognition of their assistance in delivering a baby boy while on duty.

The officers responded Feb. 23 to the Exxon Gas Station at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Florence Street to a report of someone in need of assistance for "an unknown medical issue." They soon learned a woman was in labor.

Commissioners also heard updates on the Maxton Rescue Squad and the Southeast Regional Airport Authority.

The Board learned that the squad now has grown to 25 members since being reestablished in August, nearly doubling the number the squad had before being put out of operation, Chief Wilbert Harris said. Since being back in operation, the squad has answered 59 calls, 42 of which were emergency situations.

Future plans for the squad is to obtain its 501(c)(3) certification so it can apply for grants, further increase membership and provide volunteers with pay per service calls, Harris said.

Commissioner Victor Womack, a member of the Southeast Regional Airport Authority, explained to his fellow commissioners the reason the state's General Assembly signed into law Senate Bill 795, which renamed the Laurinburg‑Maxton Airport Commission as the Southeast Regional Airport Authority, increased the membership of the authority's board, and clarified the authority's powers and duties.

The change was needed because of an effort to diminish the voice of Maxton representatives on the board, Womack said.

"We didn't let that happen," he said. "They (Scotland County members of the board) tried to pull a fast one on us," he said. "Our colleagues in Scotland County stabbed us in the back, but we took care of it."

The commissioners also amended the Maxton Police Department's budget, moving funds from the Asset Forfeiture line item to the Capital line item for the purchase of a Dodge Durango canine vehicle, which will cost $10,000.

Commissioners will have to place on hold a request to the N.C. Department of Transportation to install lighting at the U.S. 74 and N.C. 71 interchange. The Board learned Tuesday that the cost of adding the lighting would be a about $216,000, which was why the item was tabled.

The Board had pursued lighting the area because it is said to be a hazard for Maxton residents, Mayor Paul Davis said.

"We got a rainy night tonight," Davis said. "If you want to turn out there on 74 you just cannot see."

Commissioners approved replacing an air-conditioning unit that was stolen from the Maxton Museum. The cost of the new unit, which comes from A Plus, is $3,950.

Interim Town Manager Angela Pitchford told commissioners that the unit would have to be purchased "as soon as possible" to environmentally safeguard the artifacts in the museum.

The commissioners also approved the removal of mold from the Learning Academy, which has been closed for some time. The building once housed Robeson Community College classes.

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5965.