Lumberton police chief 'ashamed' of pot videoBy BUSTER WOLFE,
The Lumberton police chief who is embroiled in controversy over his job and his personal life said Wednesday he is “strictly ashamed of” a cellphone video that shows him smoking marijuana.
Police Chief Shane Flynt was suspended Tuesday afternoon after the video was shown to Mayor Quincy Rogers. The 49-year-old Flynt, who has been in law enforcement since 2006, said the video was shot by his estranged wife, who brought the marijuana to his house.
Flynt’s status will be taken up by the Lumberton Board of Aldermen at its next meeting Tuesday night.
Flynt said the video hurt him professionally and personally.
“I really try to respect my profession,” he said. “I was in the privacy of my own home and I just got caught up. It was all basically arranged.”
Tuesday night, Flynt posted his regrets on Facebook over the situation.
“Please know that one video, one mistake, does not define the person I am, my moral or ethical values,” he wrote. “I made a huge mistake. … I love serving the town of Lumberton, the people there are like family to me. It saddens my heart that I’ve disappointed many as well as myself.”
As of late Wednesday, Flynt’s Facebook had received more than 160 messages of support from well-wishers.
Flynt said Wednesday that he was “ashamed, heartbroken and embarrassed.”
“I am so ashamed right now; words cannot even tell you,” he said. “I’m not saying what I was doing was right, because it is illegal now and I am chief of police. The image hurts me because I love the kids, I love the community and I love my profession and my job. I got in a bad way and I’m going to have to pay for it.”
Flynt, who underwent back surgery Wednesday morning, said he had smoked marijuana in the past.
“I messed with it in high school,” said Flynt, who said had has no legal issues before the tape was shown. “I am very lenient with people over marijuana when I am on patrol. I tell people, ‘Don’t let me have to catch you with it. Don’t come out in my roads with it. If you’re going to come out here with it, I’m going to have to do my job. If you’re going to smoke it, stay at home. Don’t let me catch you with it.’”
At least Lumberton official – Ward 3 Alderman Jonathan Griffith – said he still supported Flynt as police chief. Griffith also reviewed the video.
“He’s always been there for me,” he said. “He’s the officer that wasn’t afraid to arrest Danny Davis, Public Works Director, when he assaulted me while driving the City of Lumberton work truck and wearing a City of Lumberton uniform.”
Griffith said earlier reports that said the Board of Aldermen had a copy of the video was not true.
“We never had a video and I’m the only board member that saw the video because it was shown to me before I was interviewed (on television),” he said, adding that Flynt is building a better department. “He’s collected more fines than any other chief, he’s constantly patrolling and he’s a service-centered officer that actually loves this city.”
Flynt had taken a personal leave from the city post to work out some personal issues in February. He said he tried to give Mayor Rogers a resignation letter, but Rogers said he would not accept it.
Flynt has been with the Lumberton Police Department for five years after working in the Columbia Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. At that time, Sgt. Philipe Ducksworth was appointed interim chief.
Flynt was appointed chief after the Lumberton Board of Alderman decided last September not to renew the contract of Police Chief Elsie Cowart after five years as police chief. Rogers vetoed that action. However, the board voted 5-0 to override Rogers’ veto and not rehire Cowart.
Cowart is now assistant police chief in Sumrall.
In another personnel move in Lumberton City Hall, former City Clerk Merlene Wall returned to her previous job after the City Council placed legal advertisements in The Lamar Times to take applications for city clerk and deputy city clerk.
The previous city clerk, Latania Grant – who submitted the legal advertisement for applications – was terminated by the Board of Aldermen.
Rogers, who served as an alderman before becoming mayor last year, said the legal advertisements are not unusual.
“I cannot tell you how many times since I was an alderman from 2005 until my last term that we advertised for positions that were already filled,” he said. “This is just business as usual.”