OXFORD — Granville County Sheriff’s Office deputies teamed up with personnel from a variety of law enforcement agencies for “Operation Spring Cleaning,” a weekend of increased patrols for Saint Patrick’s Day weekend.
“We’ve got the Booze It and Lose It Saint Patrick’s Day campaign occurring all across North Carolina,” Mark Ezzell, director of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Governor’s Highway Safety Program, last Friday. “From Murphy to Manteo, law enforcement agencies are joining together to have intensive patrols for the remainder of this weekend… it’s a popular time for parties. People will be driving, some will be driving impaired…”
An increase in law enforcement agents on the roads is meant to help prevent accidents due to driving while impaired, explained Ezzell.
“That’s going to save some lives,” Ezzell continued, “and obviously that’s important to Granville County.”
The campaign is also meant to show law enforcement agencies collaborating.
“That’s really important…” said Ezzell, “because you have a number of different law enforcement agencies across this county, you have state law enforcement… and just that ability to collaborate makes for better, more efficient operations.”
The campaign happening in Granville County represents efforts to change how the GCSO partners with people, said Sheriff Robert Fountain.
“We are one family of law enforcement,” said Fountain, “that’s what we’re trying to establish. And just, the mere fact that I’m trying to be the catalyst of changing the perception of law enforcement, from the community engagement piece to the public safety piece, which has been lacking.”
The operation came, in part, as a request from the community, said Fountain.
“We just want to go out and make people happy,” said Fountain. “Because the community has asked for our presence, and they’ve asked for us to make sure that they’re safe.”
In total, the GCSO charged 19 with driving with no operator’s license, three for driving with revoked licenses, and 16 with other violations related to vehicle registration. Deputies arrested two for felony possession of drugs, one with methamphetamine and one with cocaine and charged six with misdemeanor probation violations.
Alcohol Law Enforcement agents arrested three for alcohol violations, four for felony possession of methamphetamine and two for misdemeanors. Personnel with the ALE made two on-premises inspections and one off-premises inspection.
“I don’t really care what people say as long as we do justice,” said Fountain. “And justice is like a relay, the baton of justice has been passed to me. I’m going to pick it up and do the right thing.”
Fountain took office after a Wake County court found former Sheriff Brindell Wilkins guilty on six charges each of felony obstruction of justice and obtaining property by false pretenses. He played a role in the falsification of training records; claiming that he had attended and completed training sessions and firearms qualifications when he had not.
Former Sgt. Chad Coffey was found guilty in the same case last February.
Wilkins was sentenced to a minimum of 18 months in prison and will likely never be able to run for sheriff again; Coffey was sentenced to 15 months.
Wilkins was suspended in 2019 — an interim sheriff filled his seat until Fountain’s nomination in 2022.
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