Rumor Control

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R​umor Control

Welcome to the Rumor Control page, where the City of Salisbury dispels rumors and corrects misinformation. 

If you hear rumors in the community that you believe should be corrected, please contact the City of Salisbury at coscommunications@salisburync.gov.




June 8, 2017

Rumor: The Salisbury Police Department stationed armed guards at Food Lion Stores in Salisbury.
Fact: The City of Salisbury/Salisbury Police Department DID NOT hire or station armed guards at any location in Salisbury.​


June 7, 2017

Rumor: I heard that there will be a riot in Salisbury this week or weekend following today's announcement from the Rowan District Attorney's Office regarding the officer-involved shooting.
Fact: The Salisbury Police Department does not have credible evidence at this time that riots will occur in our City. It does your 
neighbors an injustice to share this information with your friends, family and neighbors via social media, telephone or in-person as fact. Again, we encourage our residents to seek factual information from reliable sources.


May 30, 2017

Dear Justice in Salisbury Group: 

Thank you for your correspondence to City of Salisbury officials received via email at 4 p.m., Friday, May 26, in response to our request of various community stakeholders to discuss the upcoming Rowan County District Attorney’s decision regarding the Ferguson Laurent Jr. officer-involved shooting. Officials are declining this invitation. 

For nearly seven months, the City of Salisbury and Salisbury Police Department have come under scrutiny regarding the Laurent shooting – and rightly so. Whenever a police tactic results in a death of a citizen, the community deserves a full investigation, transparency and truth from all those involved. 

However, the proliferation of false information surrounding this incident spread by members of your organization, the question of Police Chief Jerry Stokes’ credentials, the continued, unlawful request to direct the Chief to suspend the use of knock and announce warrants, and requests of information specifically known not to be in the City’s possession, is disappointing. 

Specifically:

  • Following Mr. Laurent’s death, Chief Jerry Stokes immediately called a meeting of stakeholders to share as much information as he was able with community members to help calm tensions. At that time, Chief shared with the group that the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) was in charge of the investigation going forward. He also stated that the information he provided was preliminary at best, including the number of gunshots fired.

  •  On Thursday March 9, Salisbury –Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black emailed a letter to me falsely stating that Police Chief Stokes had “not successfully completed the requirements of the N.C. Basic Law Enforcement class after multiple attempts.” And “that due to numerous absences, he was advised that he would be removed from the course altogether.” This highly inaccurate and inflammatory letter was forwarded to members of the media. City staff spent an unnecessary amount of effort combatting this false narrative.​

    The known fact was that Chief Stokes was still an active member of the class as of the date of the letter. The Chief was never “advised that he would be removed from the class” nor “had he taken the class after multiple attempts.” Chief Stokes took and passed the exam on Friday, May 12, and graduated from BLET on Wednesday, May 24. This fact is and was known to your organization back in March through present.

    Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes is a highly qualified law enforcement officer with more than 32 years experience. He is keenly aware of and has researched how to use the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. He also was the only police chief candidate who had a clear vision for the Salisbury Police Department’s community policing program.

    Yet, in your latest letter, you continue to ask about Chief Stokes’ credentials as an accredited law enforcement official. Chief Stokes is a fully accredited law enforcement officer, with full arrest powers, through the N.C. Department of Justice Standards Division. In addition, completion of the N.C. BLET course is not a requirement to serve as a North Carolina Police Chief. No additional questions will be answered regarding Chief’s qualifications as Salisbury Police Chief.

  •  The news media, Salisbury stakeholders and the general public received a copy of the statement from the N.C. Attorney General, which stated that a local government agency cannot restrict law enforcement tactics that are outlined in the N.C. state statute.​

    However, the Salisbury Police Department has enacted additional measures should they choose to utilize knock and announce warrants in the future. Those measures include additional implicit bias, de-escalation skills and other training for all officers, oversight and final approval by Chief Stokes and Major Barnes to obtain future knock and announce warrants, and requirements that every first-responder police officer in the department wear body cameras, including those on the Special Response Team. These measures were shared last week with the small group meeting attendees.

  •  It has been announced to members of the media, various community groups and residents, in public and in one-on-one conversations, in multiple instances, that the City of Salisbury DOES NOT have the SBI report on the Laurent shooting. Members of Justice in Salisbury are well aware of that fact and were told the SBI would handle EVERY aspect of the shooting investigation, and that the report would be sent directly to the Rowan County D.A.’s office once completed.​ 

    Yet, your group members continue to spread this false information. We will no longer address any additional questions regarding this report, its origination or its current location until the D.A. releases the report. In the meantime, any additional questions regarding the Laurent shooting should be addressed to the D.A. or the SBI.

  •  Finally, a series of small group meetings were held on Thursday, May 25 and Friday, May 26. The meetings were held in small groups in an effort to provide all stakeholders an opportunity to speak and share their own individual thoughts and concerns. In a setting of 30+ individuals, an opportunity for all to share their opinions would be near impossible and unfair to other attendees. 

    S
    ome members of Justice in Salisbury initially agreed to attend these small group meetings including during follow-up, confirmation telephone calls. On the first day of this engagement, your members declined to attend these meetings.

Our objective is and always will be the health, safety and well-being of the Salisbury community. Despite your refusal to meet with city administration, we are still open to communicating with your group at a later date for the betterment of our community.

Warmest Regards,

W. Lane Bailey



May 11,2017

Rumor: Why did the trees along the 100 block of W. Innes St. need to be cut down during the sidewalk construction project?
Fact: This project is to rebuild and enhance sidewalks along Innes St.  Sidewalks have deteriorated in this area and show a lack cohesiveness with the other areas of downtown.  We are replacing concrete sidewalks with a mix of concrete and brick pavers and also replacing street trees as they’ll be severely damaged during the construction process.​​

Rumor: The trees are being cut down and not going to be replaced.
Fact: Trees will be replanted in the fall.  The summer heat is too stressful to transplant large trees.  Our Tree Board has selected Bosque Lacebark Elms as a replacement tree.  A local tree farm has these exact trees and we’ll work them to move the trees as soon as the weather cools.  We are also adding engineered soil and expanding the tree pits for the new elm trees.  These pits will be under the new pavers and be over 20’ wide.  We are working with the Carolina Stalite Company which is a local company on the installation of these new pits.  A detail of the new tree pits is attached.​​

Rumor: Why couldn’t we work around the existing trees?  From the Salisbury Post:  When Chad Vriesema of Central Piedmont Builders was turning the Bernhardt Hardware Building on North Main Street into shops and apartments a few years ago, he wanted to remove the sidewalk trees to clear the way for construction, according to Rodney Queen, formerly of the city’s tree board. The board denied Vriesema’s request and he proceeded with the trees intact. “He did a great job working around them,” Queen says.
Fact: CP Builders did do a great job working around the trees when they renovated the Bernhardt Hardware Building.  Our project is renovating the sidewalks which is totally different.  Instead of working inside a building, our work consists of excavating the sidewalks and the subgrade.  Unfortunately this work will severely damage the tree’s root system and ultimately kill the tree.​​

Rumor: Why can’t we have large oak trees like Greenville, SC?
Fact: We can have large oak trees like Greenville, SC if we provide the proper infrastructure to support them.  Due to the high volume of traffic on Innes Street we are limited on how large the sidewalks can be.  Unfortunately this space is too small to accommodate large oak trees as their roots would damage our historic downtown buildings.  Staff is always looking for opportunities to improve our urban tree canopy.  Should an opportunity arise that would allow for the proper infrastructure to be installed staff will make every effort to enhance our urban tree canopy.​


March 24,2017

Rumor: Lane Bailey sent an internal memo to Salisbury city staff forbidding them to attend the Stop the Violence Summit held on Saturday, March 18.
Fact: No such memo was sent and no such directive was given to any City of Salisbury employee regarding the Stop the Violence Summit held on Saturday, March 18. The City has partnered with Rowan County and the Rowan-Salisbury School System to create a series of four community action meetings.  Two of the meetings are in the evening and two are on Saturdays, and as the City Manager explained to Al Heggins in an email, he could not specifically require staff to attend her event because of the time that will be spent on the four events already planned. In regards to Chief Stokes absence, he had previously shared that he would not be in attendance. He recently had surgery and was on medical leave.​​


March 20 ,2017

Rumor: Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes failed his Basic Law Enforcement Training exam and does not have arrest powers in the state of North Carolina.

Fact: Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes remains a student in the Basic Law Enforcement Training class at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. The exam mentioned above will be administered to students in May 2017. Currently, Chief Stokes has arrest powers in the state of North Carolina through August 2017.

Chief Stokes has more than 30 years experience and 3,000 hours of documented law enforcement training, and most recently served as a deputy chief in Lynchburg, Virginia. There, he was a fully-certified police officer.


The N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards recognizes the certification and training of law enforcement officers from other states on a probationary period, provided the officer’s experience and training records are sufficient. During the probationary period, the officer must complete 90 hours of study in North Carolina law as outlined in N.C. Justice Standards.

In compliance with the general statutes of the state of North Carolina and specifically the Rules of Chapter 9 to Title 12 of the NC Administrative Code, Chief Stokes has been provided with a probationary certification as a fully-sworn law enforcement officer, who is able to enforce the laws of the state.

The City of Salisbury encourages residents to seek truth for themselves and not engage in false narratives that have no basis or foundation in fact.
 


January 19,2017

Rumor: The Salisbury Police Department is ignoring eyewitness statements that multiple officers fired and that Laurent never fired.
Fact: The shooting took place within the residence on E. Lafayette St. Only three individuals were present in the home when the Salisbury Police Department entered, including Mr. Laurent. Any additional interviews conducted by the SBI were of individuals outside of the residence.​

Rumor: Multiple people walked through the crime scene.
Fact: The crime scene is noted as the residence of 625 E. Lafayette St. Only members of law enforcement were in the residence during the investigation.

From the time officers arrived on scene, members of law enforcement were stationed on either side of the police caution tape along the 600 block of E. Lafayette St. Everyone who crossed the police line was required to provide their name, title, telephone number, including residents who lived in the immediate vicinity of 625 E. Lafayette.​

Rumor: The City of Salisbury has not been truthful and transparent about the shooting death of Ferguson Laurent Jr. 
Fact: The City of Salisbury and the Salisbury Police Department have provided the public with as much information and documentation as they can provide in the midst of this on-going investigation. As stated two months ago, the City of Salisbury and the Salisbury Police Department cannot comment any further than the already provided information so as not to interfere with the on-going SBI investigation.
 ​

City of Salisbury Statement:

The City of Salisbury is aware that members of the Salisbury community held a news conference today regarding the autopsy of Ferguson Laurent Jr.

We have stated since November 4, that once we provided the initial, preliminary information, that we would have no further comment on this incident until the SBI concluded its investigation of this officer-involved shooting. It would be highly inappropriate for the Salisbury Police Department or the City of Salisbury to comment on an on-going investigation, particularly an investigation this important to our community.

Unfortunately, as we wait for the SBI investigation to conclude, assumptions, accusations and misinformation have been shared with the public and the news media. Multiple pages of information regarding Mr. Laurent, the officer involved, the search warrant and the items recovered from the home, were provided to members of the public and the news media from the city in the spirit of truth and transparency. The characterization that we are being secretive or not forthcoming is highly inaccurate. We continue to stand by the decision to not comment at this time until the SBI investigation is concluded. 

However, there were some points made at the news conference that we would like to clarify:

  1. Initial reports on the day of the shooting were that Mr. Laurent was shot two times by Officer Boehm. After further investigation on the night of the shooting, it was determined that the initial reports on the number of shots were inconclusive. The true number of shots would be provided in the SBI report and the autopsy. This information was shared with on the City’s Rumor Control web page on the evening of November 3 and with members of the public.
  2. On the evening of the shooting, the City and the Salisbury Police Department called together members of the community, including some of the speakers at today’s news conference, to share as much information as we could regarding this incident, again in the spirit of truth and transparency. But more importantly, we recognized that tensions were beginning to rise in our community. We reached out to these individuals for outreach assistance. We answered questions to the best of our ability at that time. We also shared with the group that we could not comment further until the SBI completed its investigation. We have not met with this same group following the first meeting.   
  3. The City is not “hiding behind” its Rumor Control page. This valuable tool has been employed to dispute false information that has been shared in the community. However, despite our best efforts, some of these rumors continue to exist as noted at today’s news conference.
  4. The shooting took place within the residence on E. Lafayette St. Three individuals were present in the home, including Mr. Laurent. The one known eyewitness to the Salisbury Police Department was interviewed. Any additional “eyewitnesses” were located outside of the home and would have been interviewed by the SBI following the canvas of the neighborhood that day. The Salisbury Police Department has no further information about eyewitnesses coming forward to share information.​ 


January 17, 2017

Rumor: Ferguson Laurent was shot 10 times by a Salisbury Police Officer during the service of a warrant 
Fact: Numerous reporters failed to read the entire autopsy report that states three of the gunshot wounds “may represent a re-entrance of one of the bullets perforating the right upper arm.” This inaccurate statement has been repeated multiple times in news stories over the past few days. Again, the actual number of shots fired will be released once the SBI concludes its investigation of this matter.


January 12, 2017

Rumor: Ferguson Laurent was shot 10 times by a Salisbury Police Officer during the service of a warrant 
Fact: The autopsy report released today by the Office of the Medical Examiner shows that Ferguson Laurent experienced 10 gunshot wounds to various parts of his body, including five in the torso, four to the arm and one to the head. While the autopsy report lists 10 bullet wounds, it does not account for the actual number of shots fired by the officer. Bullet fragments were recovered in the arm wounds and in the case of one wound, no bullet or fragment was found. We will not know the actual number of shots until the State Bureau of Investigations completes its investigation of this shooting incident.
 ​

December 8, 2016

Rumor: High Point Police are prohibited by policy from their City Council from using no-knock tactics
Fact: According to the High Point Chief of Police, Kenneth J. Shultz "According to my knowledge, that information has never been discussed by our Council. We do not have a policy from them that prohibits no-knock tactics. Instead, we comply with state law and can use the tactic in critical cases where it is ruled that the danger to our officers based on factors such as known weapon possession and disposition to harm our officers warrants the consideration for a no-knock warrant. In truth, we seldom utilize such a tactic, but it is a viable option should the level of danger dictate such a response. Related to this, our internal policy does mandate that the Tactical Team be utilized to execute all high risk search warrants where weapons are known or are suspected or where the suspect's actions are considered unusually dangerous."


Rumor: The SPD failed to provide paid security to Firewater Restaurant on Saturday, December 3
Fact: A representative of Firewater Restaurant contacted the Salisbury Police Department asking for security at 12:30 p.m. on December 2. The Salisbury Police Department is not required to provide security for private events and only do so as a service for the community members willing to pay for an officer. In addition, the request was made with very short notice. No officer could alter his/her schedule in that short time to accommodate the request.


Rumor: Loose leaf collection is increased for those who live in the Country Club Hills area of Salisbury
Fact: This statement is false. The City of Salisbury is divided into three areas for loose leaf collection per week. Each area receives ONE collection week on a rotated schedule. NO community within the City receives an increased number of leaf collections. The leaf collection map can be found here: 2016-2017 Leaf Collection Map


Rumor: The City of Salisbury is on high alert this weekend.
Fact: Contrary to the false reporting by a community blog, the City of Salisbury is NOT on high alert this weekend. The Salisbury Police Department has no credible information that there will be additional gun violence this weekend. As always, we ask visitors and residents to be aware of their surroundings and take appropriate safety measures to ensure personal security. We continue to encourage residents to research and seek truth from legitimate sources instead of relying on inflammatory websites that seek to incite fear instead of relaying factual information.


Rumor: Prior to Fibrant, the City has 207 sworn police officers.
Fact: The FY06-07 budget included 105 authorized positions in the Salisbury Police Department. The current 2016-2017 budget has 88 positions in the Salisbury Police Department.  During this span of time, Animal Control and Telecommunications functions for the City were consolidated at the County level, transferring those positions to the County. Also, the Police Recruiter position was transferred and consolidated within the City’s Human Resources Department. These three levels of service are still being provided to the Salisbury Policy Department and citizens of Salisbury, but under a different area of control.  Additionally, there have been some positions during the span of the last 10 years that were temporarily grant funded and authorized in the Police Department. Not all positions in the Police Department are sworn positions, currently we have 81 sworn positions authorized in the FY16-17 Budget versus 82 actual sworn positions in FY06-07. The City’s current and previous adopted budgets, dating back to 2000, can be found at the following link:  http://www.salisburync.gov/Departments/FinancialServices/finance/Pages/default.asp​



November 5, 2016

Rumor: Officer Boehm only had two year experience on the force and limited drug training. 
Fact: Since being employed by the Salisbury Police Department, Officer Boehn has received regular law enforcement in-service training to include: 
  • Crisis Intervention (2009) 
  • Drug Investigations for Patrol (2009) 
  • Control and Arrest Techniques (2010) 
  • Understanding Cultural Differences (2010) 
  • Diversity (2010 and 2014) 
  • Juvenile Minority Sensitivity (2011) 
  • Arrest, search, and seizure (2011 and 2012) 
  • Emergency Response Plans (2011) 
  • Advanced Special Weapons and Tactics (2011) 
  • Racial Profiling (2011) 
  • Meth Labs (2012) 
  • Handling Mentally Ill/Disturbed Persons (2013) 
  • Field Training Officer Certification (2013) 
  • Ethics (2014) 
  • Fundamentals of Evidence Collection (2014) 
  • Critical Response to Schools (2014) 
  • Active Shooter (2015) 
  • Community Policing (2016) 
In addition to this training, Officer Boehm has, as required by CALEA standards, been required to review the department’s Use of Force policy annually. His last Use of Force refresher training was completed in June 2016. 
Officer Boehm has successfully qualified with his service weapons as required by policy, his last qualification was March 2016. 
Officer Boehm was assigned to the SRT in July 2010. As part of that additional duty, he receives regular training in the techniques and tactics employed by the officers assigned to SRT since that time. That training was provided 11 times per year, nearly every month. The Advanced Special Weapons and Tactics training he received in 2011 was a specific training course for members of SRT teams. 


November 4, 2016

Rumor: Downtown Salisbury's First Friday Event is cancelled.

​Fact: ​​First Friday scheduled for today, Friday, November 4 has NOT been cancelled. First Friday will begin at 5:00 p.m.​



Rumor: Tonight's football game between Salisbury High School and North Rowan High School is cancelled.  ​


Fact: ​​The football game between Salisbury High School and North Rowan High School will be held as scheduled. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. ​



November 3, 2016

Rumor: I heard there was a shooting in Salisbury.
 
Fact: ​Facts are still being gathered regarding this incident.

What we know is at approximately 9:25 a.m. on Thursday, November 3, the Salisbury Police Department Special Response Team, which includes narcotic detectives, served a no-knock search warrant for the residence. The warrant was to search for narcotics, weapons and stolen property. The Special Response Team was used to serve the warrant because the suspects in the home were known to be armed.

During the entry into the home by the officers, one subject fired at least one shot at the officers. Officers returned fired and struck the subject who has since passed away at the hospital.

Medics with the Salisbury Fire Department are members of the Salisbury Special Response Team, and were able to provide immediate medical attention to the subject after the shooting. Additional information will be made available. Due to the circumstances of the incident, SBI is leading the investigation into this shooting.​ 


Rumor: We heard that downtown businesses are planning to close early?

Fact: City staff has not yet heard that downtown businesses are planning to close early. We encourage residents to let the SBI investigation take its course. Those who may want to protest are certainly within their rights to do so peacefully and non-violently.

 

Rumor: Officer Boehm was previously involved in an officer-involved shooting.

Fact: ​Officer Boehm was involved in a previous officer-involved shooting in December 2010. In this particular incident, he was involved in a physical altercation with an individual while responding to a suspicious person call. The incident was thoroughly investigated by SBI. The shooting was deemed justified.


Rumor: A neighbor of the deceased has stated that they saw the entire incident.

Fact: ​There were three people in the residence when the officers entered the home. The shooting took place within the residence. The two other individuals who were in the residence were taken into custody. Any witnesses who have not been interviewed by the SBI, should contact the organization 800-334-3000.

 

Rumor: I heard that the police shot the person first.

Fact: ​The information we have received is that the individual fired upon officers and the officers returned fire. Any information to the contrary has not been confirmed as SBI is currently investigating this officer-involved shooting incident.

 

Rumor: I heard that there were 10 or 12 shots fired.

Fact: ​The number of shots has not been confirmed as SBI is currently investigating this officer-involved shooting incident. Early reports are that the deceased fired once and the officer returned two shots.


Rumor: The deceased was “left on the ground,” “in the grass,” “laying dead” for 40 minutes, 1 hour, “a long time,” before an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital.

Fact: ​​This rumor is untrue. The original times for the initial incident were skewed from the initial report. The call for unknown medical came in Rowan County Emergency Services at 9:16. The ambulance was dispatched at 9:17. It was marked enroute at 9:19. Arrived on scene at 9:21. Enroute to the hospital at 9:26. CPR was performed in the ambulance at 9:30.



Frequently Asked Questions regarding the officer-involved shooting on Thursday, Nov. 3.

 

Q: What happened?

A: What we know is at approximately 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, November 3, the Salisbury Police Department Special Response Team, which includes narcotic detectives, served a no-knock search warrant for the residence. The warrant was to search for narcotics, weapons and stolen property. The Special Response Team was used to serve the warrant because the suspects in the home were known to be armed.

During the entry into the home by the officers, one subject fired at least one shot at the officers. Officers returned fired and struck the subject who has since passed away at the hospital.

 

Q: Where was the shooting?

A: The shooting occurred in the 600 block of Lafayette Street

 

Q: Why was this particular home targeted?

A: This home was targeted after a three-month narcotics investigation on the home. The search warrant was issued due to the combination of suspected drug activity, weapons in the home and a report of stolen property.

 

Q: What is a no-knock warrant?

A: A no-knock warrant is issued in a possibly dangerous and potentially volatile situation. Only a superior court judge can issue a warrant based on evidence presented.

On Friday, November 4, we anticipate that we can provide additional information on the frequency of use and success rate of a no-knock warrant.

 

Q: What is the individual’s status?

A: The person has since passed away at the hospital.

 

Q: Who was the individual who was shot?

A: The deceased is Ferguson Laurent Jr.

 

Q: To which hospital was the suspect taken?

A: Novant Rowan Regional Hospital

 

Q: Was the incident recorded on officer’s body cameras?

A: The Special Response Team incident was not captured on officers’ body cameras. This is a standard practice for this type of event as to not reveal the Special Response Team methods and tactics for gaining entry into potentially dangerous and volatile situations.

 

Q: What is the name of the officer involved?

A: Officer K.H Boehm has been a member of the Salisbury Police Department since March 24, 2008.

 

Q: Has Officer Boehm been involved in any other police shootings?

A: Yes. Officer Boehm was involved in a physical altercation with an individual. The incident was thoroughly investigated by the SBI. The shooting was deemed justified.

 

Q: What is the procedure for officers involved in shootings?

A: Typically, in officer-involved shootings with the Salisbury Police Department, the officer is placed on paid, administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

 

Q: What is Officer Boehm’s current status?

A: Officer Boehm is on paid, administrative leave pending SBI’s investigation and the SPD concludes its internal investigation.

 

Q: How many officers are on the SRT?

A: We are not able to comment on the number of our special operations officers.​

​​