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Spring Hope moves to hire top cop

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Spring Hope’s town manager apparently is moving quickly to hire a new police chief after Chief Anthony Puckett was named Nashville’s new top lawman.

“I don’t have an exact time frame, but a decision is near,” Spring Hope Town Manager Jae Kim told the Telegram in an email. “I plan on having a new chief named prior to Chief Puckett leaving for Nashville, so no interim will likely be named.”

Puckett is scheduled to become Nashville’s new chief on Tuesday. Puckett will succeed interim Chief Joey Corbett, who has been serving temporarily after Chief Tom Bashore stepped aside in December to accept a position with the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association.

In his email, Kim told the Telegram the process for selecting Spring Hope’s future police chief is internal, as two candidates presently with the Spring Hope Police Department applied for the top position.

Kim said the process included a four-person assessment board, followed by one-on-one interviews with him.

Kim said Puckett has been paid $59,665 a year and estimates the salary range for the future chief will be between $45,000 to $50,000 annually.

Kim said including the chief, the town’s police force is comprised of seven officers.

The hiring of Puckett as Nashville’s new police chief was announced on June 6. Then-interim Nashville Town Manager Leonard Barefoot chose Puckett after 12 candidates submitted applications.

Puckett will be paid $64,584 a year as Nashville’s police chief.

Puckett has an extensive resume, having served as a lawman for more than two decades, including more than 11 years with the Rocky Mount Police Department.

He was Spring Hope’s top lawman for about five years and in 2017 graduated from the FBI Academy. The academy is the professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement managers held in Quantico, Va.

In Spring Hope, Town Commissioner Brent Cone told the Telegram, “Obviously we hate to lose Anthony and a chief of his caliber. And he has done a fantastic job for us and I wish him well.”

As far as his hope for what Spring Hope will get as a replacement, Cone said, “I hope that it will be someone that could step right into Anthony’s shoes and keep up the good work he has done.”

Cone cited both Puckett’s emphasis on community relations and moving the Spring Hope Police Department forward.

“Spring Hope has a nice, long line of strong police chiefs — and we want to keep that going,” he said.

Town Commissioner Brenda Lucas told the Telegram she believes Puckett was great as chief. She expressed appreciation for the time Puckett spent in Spring Hope and echoed Cone in wishing Puckett well.

“Our loss is somebody else’s gain,” Lucas said.

Overall, Lucas said she is upbeat about what will happen next.

“I’m just confident that everything is going to work out fine — and that we have a great town manager,” she said. “And I believe that he will definitely make the right decision as to what path we’re going to take. And my only hope is that the safety of the community continues. And I’m just confident that it will.”

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