Aldermen Accept Lumberton Police Chief’s ResignationBy BUSTER WOLFE,
Without discussion, the Lumberton Board of Aldermen accepted the resignation Tuesday night of Police Chief Shane Flynt, who was embroiled in controversy over his job after a cellphone video surfaced last week that shows him smoking marijuana.
Flynt was suspended 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.
Aldermen declined to give Mayor Rogers authority to terminate Flynt in an earlier agenda item at Tuesday’s meeting. Some audience members later questioned the decision.
Lumberton resident Lizz Smith asked the aldermen why Flynt was not fired. She said he had been allowed to resign from at least three other law enforcement agencies.
“What I want to know is why was he not fired?” she asked. “What you did is you gave him the right to go and get another police job somewhere else. If you let him resign, you might as well tell the other members of the police force that it’s OK to smoke marijuana. The kids will smoke it and the police won’t be able to do anything because they’re in the same boat; they’re doing the same thing.”
Ward 3 Alderman Jonathan Griffin said the decision was a personnel matter.
Flynt said last week 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.”
Flynt said 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 said he had smoked marijuana in the past.
“I messed with it in high school,” said Flynt, who said he had 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.’”
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.