The Cherryville Police Department gains a new police chief today, five months after federal agents stormed the agency to arrest officers and other local men involved in a criminal scheme to safeguard stolen property traveling through the area on tractor trailers.
According to various news media outlets, Chad Hawkins, a former City of Gastonia police sergeant and officer with Cramerton and Lowell police agencies, embarks on his first day with the department anxious to install order and credibility to a town wrought with scandal last year.
Hawkins, whose leadership was announced earlier this month, also served many years as a Lowell City Council member but has since resigned and will be moving to Cherryville, outlets have said.
The seasoned law enforcement officer replaces Sgt. Cam Jenks, who served a brief time as acting police chief after city officials suspended then-chief Woodrow Burgess, along with Sgt. Mike Allred, the Times-News previously reported.
Burgess later resigned, a decision he said he had already planned to do before suspension.
Since October, when FBI and State Bureau of Investigation officials raided the department and collected evidence for an investigation, six defendants, including three Cherryville police officers, two residents and one Gaston County Sheriff’s reserve officer, have pleaded guilty in the case and await sentencing.
Federal officials said in 2011 the men worked with undercover FBI agents, who were posing as criminals, to use their badges to ensure stolen goods moved safely through the area, accepting bribes and profiting financially.