Police chief retires following Facebook post about Black Lives Matter
SURF CITY, Pender County - Surf City Police Chief Mike Halstead abruptly retired Tuesday following a town council meeting over a controversial Facebook post. Town leaders held an emergency meeting to discuss the post and what to do about it. According to our Wilmington ABC affiliate, WWAY, in the post, Halstead said, "This Black Lives Matter group is nothing more than an American born terrorist group." He said the movement glorifies criminals, vilifies members of law enforcement, and that the government needs to step up and put a stop to it. Town Manager Larry Bergman said the post was in reference to a recent event. "He felt pretty passionate about it. Someone had just been murdered in Texas and it was in relation to that incident," Bergman said. Bergman said the post violates a policy that has to do with how the chief is supposed to present himself. "Personal postings are something that's not allowed," he said. Military police officer Andrew Vann said he agrees with Halstead's overall message. "In my personal experience, when you put on a badge or a uniform, that's what people see. They don't see your color. They see the blue or the black, and that's how the majority of police officers act and he's been in law enforcement for 35 years," Vann said. The town council voted to accept Halstead's retirement, which is effective immediately, and pay him 60 days severance. Bergman said Major Ron Shanahan will serve as interim chief until they can fill the position. Many are rallying behind the former chief. "He didn't offend a soul. He went out of his way to try to not offend anybody," one woman who attended the emergency meeting said. "Mike Halstead is a very, very good public servant," said Surf City resident Larry Rice.