May 6, 2013
Two state troopers choose busy weekend for
Ocracoke patrol, get vehicles vandalized
By CONNIE LEINBACH
Island was in an uproar over the weekend when two state troopers made
their presence known during a big tourist weekend that ended with the
patrolmen’s cars getting vandalized.
Troopers from Troop A,
District 4 in Washington (Beaufort County) arrived on the island
Wednesday and left Saturday morning, First Sgt. Brandon Craft said
Over the weekend, 59 citations were issued, including 32
for not wearing seat belts and five for driving while impaired, Craft
said. Eighteen warnings were given, and only warnings were
given for bicycle infractions, such as riding at night without a light.
Saturday morning, the troopers’ cars were vandalized. One car had a
cinder block thrown through the back window and the other had paint
splashed all over it, Craft confirmed.
The cars were
seen on the Swan Quarter ferry Saturday morning and a photo of the car
with the smashed window was posted on a Facebook page. Craft said
Monday that the cars have been fixed and are back in action.
Jason Daniels, Hyde County deputy sergeant on Ocracoke, said the
incident is being investigated.
All of this happened during the
first big tourist weekend for Ocracoke—the 30th Annual Ocracoke
Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament -- and some fishermen and
tournament officials were dismayed.
“We knew there would be an
influx of traffic that weekend, and when that happens, there’s the
increased potential for violations,” Craft said about choosing this
weekend to show up. “Our job is to reduce accidents, deter problems,
and be proactive rather than reactive. We arrested five drunk
drivers who could have hit a child (or adult) on the road.”
People should respect the law, Craft continued.
shouldn’t expect to get on Ocracoke and disobey the law,” he said. “It
really shouldn’t be a big deal for a trooper to be on the island.”
all, the entire state is their jurisdiction. They write tickets
every day all over this district, which covers Beaufort, Washington,
Tyrell and Hyde counties.
He said 99 percent of the people on
Ocracoke are law abiding and that several came up to him on Sunday when
he was on the island to apologize for the behavior of a few.
not going to retaliate,” he continued. “We don’t know who did this.
It’s not fair to blame the locals. As long as people on Ocracoke are
abiding by the law they don’t have anything to worry about. ”
But he did say that Ocracoke is different when it comes to traffic.
have bicycles, golf carts, trucks, cars and pedestrians all being
poured down those roads,” he said. “That’s a recipe for disaster when
you add alcohol. I will do everything I can to arrest drunk
As for seat belts that Ocracokers are sometimes lax
about wearing, Craft said that often a small infraction such as a seat
belt violation leads to a drunk driving arrest.
“We get paid to be nosy,” he said. “As uncomfortable as it is, that’s what we get paid to do.”
Manager Bill Rich said he personally apologized and offered
support in the investigation to both Captain John Nyberg, head of
the district, and Craft on behalf of the county and Ocracoke.
both assured me it would not become personal and there would be no
retribution to the county, Ocracoke or its residents,” Rich said.
Some locals are concerned that now the troopers will be “out for blood” and that local resentment will build.
“Unless we quell these things early, they can get out of hand,” noted Fred Westervelt, who owns the Cove B&B.
Why are they coming only on these busy weekends, he asked. Why don’t they come here at other times and get to know us?
Craft said that his troopers would be here more often except for Ocracoke’s geographical challenges.
do roadblocks on a regular basis all over this district, with three or
four this weekend in Beaufort and Tyrell counties,” Craft said.
“We’re not doing anything different on Ocracoke than we do anywhere
else. We get to Ocracoke when we can.”
He did say he has gotten
a lot of calls today on the weekend’s events and that he was asked to
come to Ocracoke for a special community forum.
“I’d be open to that,” he said, but so far, nothing has been set up.
the meantime, Craft said he accomplished his goal and that if anyone
has concerns, they are welcome to talk to him at the barracks office at