Memo indicates high-ranking police officer demoted; Greenville continues to withhold public records

Memo indicates high-ranking police officer demoted; Greenville continues to withhold public records
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 1:34 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A police department memo obtained by WITN indicates that a high-ranking officer has been demoted by two ranks, and transferred to another position.

For nearly three weeks, WITN has been attempting to obtain public records on the police officer.

The November 15th memo from Chief Ted Sauls listed a half dozen promotions within the department. In one of those announcements, it says the promoted officer will report to the officer in question, who is now listed at a lower rank by two grades.

The memo also says that officer’s current command position within the department will now be handled by one of those newly promoted officers.

WITN is not naming the officer involved until we can verify his demotion and new rank.

While the city’s policy says the records “shall be open for public inspection”, that wasn’t the case when WITN’s Courtney Bunting attempted to view them today at city hall.

The city’s human resources department said our request would need to go through the city’s communication manager, which we did back on October 30th.

Normally, the release of employee information to the media is a standard procedure, taking a couple of hours to a day for most governments.

Last Friday, Assistant City Attorney Donald Phillips acknowledged our request, saying the city would “respond as promptly as possible while maintaining compliance with applicable North Carolina and federal law and City personnel policies.”

Asked to explain why Courtney wasn’t allowed to view the officer’s records at city hall, the city’s communications manager released a statement almost identical to the attorney’s response last week.

“When the City says that it will release public records as soon as we possibly can while complying with applicable state and federal law and City personnel policies, it means just that. We appreciate your patience,” said Brock Letchworth in an email.

WITN has also requested a meeting with the newly appointed city manager to discuss concerns about Greenville’s apparent lack of transparency with the media. That request was made on November 6th and we’re still waiting to hear when we can meet with Michael Cowin.