Boykins cop to moonlight in Newsoms

Published 8:23 am Friday, June 5, 2009

NEWSOMS—Boykins Town Sgt. James Henry “Hank” Fuller has been hired as top cop in the neighboring hamlet of Newsoms.

Fuller said Thursday that he hasn’t set a start date for the job, which he will take on in addition to his 40-hour-a-week duties with Boykins.

“I can work as many hours as I want to,” Fuller said about moonlighting in Newsoms. “Boykins is my main priority.”

Fuller, convicted last spring on two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of having consensual sexual relations with a minor, was hired by Boykins in September amid a firestorm of controversy.

Town officials now say they are proud of the appointment.

“It’s one of the best decisions that Boykins has ever made,” said Town Clerk Pat Draper. “Hank was the only one (of the four candidates) who was certified and could start working right away.”

Boykins Mayor Spier Edwards said that Fuller has applied for several grants for the town, including one to equip the town police car with a camera. Last year’s budget for fines and ticket revenue was $16,000. From December until April, Fuller already had brought in $15,864.

“He’s doing a fantastic job,” Draper said.

Newsoms Mayor Harvey Porter said the Town Council voted 4-1 to offer the part-time position to Fuller on Tuesday after Trooper Strawn Darden left the post. Porter declined to say who cast the opposing vote.

Porter cited the need for traffic control on Highway 671 and enforcement of the town decal law as two reasons Fuller was offered the job.

“Speed increases considerably when we don’t have an officer,” Porter said. “I feel like, especially with buses turning into the new (Meherrin Elementary) school, that we need more traffic control.”

Edwards said Fuller was the perfect candidate for both jobs, despite his baggage.

“Hank has done a fantastic job for our town, not only slowing down traffic but in protecting the lives of our citizens,” Edwards said. “Even though we got a lot of negative publicity for (hiring him), we felt like he was the right person for the job.”

Until his arrest in April 2008, Fuller, now 30, served as a trooper in the State Police Area 34 office in Courtland, with duties in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties. He also continues to be a member of the Boykins Volunteer Fire Department.

Fuller came under investigation last year when an 18-year-old Newsoms woman reported that she had been in a consensual relationship with him since 2005.

The victim, whose name is being withheld in accordance with The Tidewater News’ policy of protecting the identities of sex-crime victims, told police she had started the relationship with Fuller when she was 15 and he was 26.

“He knew he did wrong, but everyone needs a second chance,” Draper said Thursday. “People can say what they want to say, but you’ve got to turn the page and keep on reading. Whoever is pointing the finger, they need to point it at themselves.”

Fuller said he hasn’t caught much flack from citizens about his position.

“I haven’t had any problems since I have been here,” he said. “The public has accepted me more than I thought they would.

“I think I have done a pretty good job. I just try to be a professional. I’m serious about my job. It’s what I love to do.”

He said he decided to apply for the Newsoms position to supplement his $26,200-a-year job in Boykins.

“If I didn’t have bills to pay, I’d probably do it for free,” he said. “I’m thankful for what Boykins has done for me. They stuck their necks out for me, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to get back into law enforcement.”