Laurinburg police Capt. Kimothy Monroe will act as the interim police chief for the 46-member department until a replacement is found for retiring Chief John Evans. Evans was also serving as fire chief for the city.
City Human Resources Director Amy Martin told The Laurinburg Exchange Thursday that Evans would be retiring Dec. 31 and that he will likely take accrued vacation time in the weeks prior to his retirement.
Evans did not return repeated telephone calls to his office. Evans is said to have informed members of his staff of the decision earlier in the week. The retirement comes just two days after the sudden resignation of City Manager Ed Burchins. Officials say the departures are not related.
Fire Lt./Inspector Randy Gibson will take over as interim fire chief. That department has 6 full-time employees that include 2 fire inspectors, 5 part-time employees and 34 paid on-call personnel, according to the city’s website.
Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker is among the city officials praising Evans’ service.
Parker said that during more than three decades with Laurinburg police, Evans has “been the epitome of a public servant.”
“All through my tenure as mayor, when I had an issue or a citizen had an issue, (Evans’) door was always open. He handled himself in a professional manner and was always very cooperative,” Parker said.
Evans is expected to remain in Scotland County.
“He told me yesterday that he was not retiring to go somewhere else and work,” Parker said. “He said that he was going to do a little traveling and enjoy the time that he hasn’t had because of his dedicated service.”
City Councilman Drew Williamson said that he could hardly remember a time when Evans was not serving on the force.
“It seems like he has been an officer for many years and he has done a great job that whole time. He is going to be missed,” Williamson said. “(Evans) is an example of someone who’d given great service to the city and advanced through the ranks when given the opportunity. He has done a fine job as chief.”
Williamson said that the city is now faced with the challenge and opportunity of finding a replacement.
“I’m sure we will consider officers currently serving and I hope we can find someone able to fill the chief’s shoes.
Parker expressed concern that the city is now faced with filling a trio of top-level jobs.
“Here we have three major vacancies at one time — the city manager, the fire chief and the police chief. I thought that would be a lot to have on our plate at one time … and there was a scenario where (Evans) could have stayed that would have possibly been advantageous to the city.”
Martin said that Evans will qualify for “separation allowance” in the amount of $21,931.07 annually until the age of 62. He is 57.
“Every police officer in the state of North Carolina qualifies for separation allowance and the city is required to pay it by law,” Martin said.
The separation allowance total is based on a formula that factors in longevity, age and salary.
Evans will also qualify for his pension from the police retirement system. That compensation will not be paid by the city.
Monroe has chosen to withhold comment until after Dec. 31.