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Ex-Princeville mayors seek police force

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By Lindell John Kay
Staff Writer

Saturday, May 28, 2016

PRINCEVILLE — Two former Princeville mayors are telling the Town Board of Commissioners its past time they had their own police force.

Ed Bridgers, mayor from 1974-81, recently presented the board a petition with the signatures of more than 200 residents who want a police department during Monday's town meeting. Bridgers has been pushing for a police department at town meetings for the past several months.

“Since November 2015, I've been begging for a police department and nothing has been done about it,” Bridgers said, adding he's met with town staff but disagreed on whether the town had enough money for a police department.

The Princeville Police Department ceased operations in late 2014 after the Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a request from Princeville and the Local Government Commission for the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office to take over law enforcement duties for the town.

“Everybody thinks because it’s a black town, it can't be run — but it can,” Bridgers said.

Bridgers said the town needs its own police force because the situation has become so bad that sometimes gangs block off streets and won't let law-abiding residents through.

Princeville pays the county $250,000 a year to have deputies patrol the town.

Former Mayor Delia Perkins told town officials it would take only $184,000 to hire two full-time officers and pay for equipment.

“I don't understand someone saying we can't have our own police department,” Perkins said. “Please, for the sake of the citizens, we need a police department back in Princeville. Schools will be out soon and kids are already hanging out on the corners.”

Perkins said just the sight of a patrol car with Princeville on the side would make people feel better.

“I'm vested in Princeville,” Perkins said. “I'm too old to move and I don't want to. I hope and pray you commissioners take this under consideration.”

Bridgers and Perkins spoke during the public comment period.

Town Commissioner Joeroam Myrick asked residents to be patient with the board.

“We're moving forward,” Myrick said. “Give us time to work out the kinks.”

New Town Manager Daniel Gerald said he is scheduled to meet with Edgecombe County Eric Evans and Sheriff James Knight to discuss the town's contract for law enforcement. Gerald said results of that meeting would be presented during a June 16 board workshop meeting.

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