The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office is back on the radar. Remnants of Sid Causey stench has found it's way once again into the lap of Ed McMahon. As if the scandal of the helicopter fiasco wasn't enough, a new whale of a scandal has washed up on shore.
The County used grant money from the State to purchase 4 new radar units in May 2008. They installed this new equipment into new cars also purchased with a grant. They then used these radar units for at least 9 months illegally issuing speeding citations and other criminal charges stemming from the initial stop for speeding.
The units, the Golden Eagle II, were not even approved for use by the State until August 2009.
What does this mean? It means every citation issued because of the illegal use of this equipment could be tossed out. It means defense attorneys will have new business to seek dismissal of charges for anything from speeding to drunk driving to drug possession. It is even possible that someone had their vehicle seized and sold for gas money for the helicopter. It means the District Attorney will have to work overtime or hire extra people to answer all the inquiries. It means if New Hanover County did it it stands to reason other Counties did the same thing.
How did it happen? The Sheriff's Office did not do their job properly. They can say whatever they want but the fact is that they should have known better. It's their job.
Eventually Sheriff McMahon became aware of this problem. Supposedly he said something to the District Attorney's Office. The average traffic officer has at least 100 cases in their case file at any given time, many have more than 200. So for the sake of argument let's just say that at the moment of discovery 4 deputies in the SAFE unit had 100 cases each on file, not yet been presented in court. 400 cases awaiting trial. Were each of these cases dismissed? Were the defendants at least told the truth in court?
We are seeking the answer to that question. What happened to those cases when it became clear that these deputies were not certified to use the equipment?
When we get some answers we'll let you know.