You asked: Sheriff explains indicted captain’s duties

Published 9:35 am Saturday, July 2, 2011

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You asked: Why is Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Phelps still a supervisor while under indictment?

FRANKLIN—Months after being indicted on charges that he allowed a convicted felon to possess a weapon, Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Phelps remains on payroll with “limited administrative duties.”

Those duties include reviewing and assigning cases as well as overseeing investigations, said Sheriff Charlie Phelps, who is Paul Phelps’ father.

Paul Phelps has been mostly removed from the field since the indictment was handed down, the sheriff said.

“He’s not going out on calls,” Charlie Phelps said. “He stays in the office.”

Paul Phelps on May 9 was indicted for allegedly allowing four-time convicted felon Jonathan Burns, who volunteered in the sheriff’s office, to participate in some arrests and carry a stun gun.

Charlie Phelps said while some law enforcement agencies have an administrative division as well as patrol and investigative divisions, his office is not large enough for this and many officers in supervisor roles, including himself, assist on calls on a daily basis.

Paul Phelps was also asked to assist on calls before he was indicted.

“It’s a possibility he’ll have a jury trial, and we have to limit his contact with the public because someone on a call he assists with could end up on the jury,” Charlie Phelps said.

Paul Phelps did accompany deputies during a recent search of a Smithfield home. Charlie Phelps said his son was the only senior supervisor available, but he wouldn’t normally go on calls now.

Charlie Phelps said he is handling the situation the same way he would handle it with anyone in the office who had been indicted and added that allowing Paul Phelps to continue working in his previous job within the office comes down to a presumption of innocence.

“I’ve been involved in the system for many years and I believe in the system,” Charlie Phelps said. “We are putting our faith in the system. You’re innocent until proven guilty, and that’s the way I have to approach it.”

As far as officers currently working under Paul Phelps who may be asked to testify, the sheriff said defense attorney Woody Crook has not yet received a list of possible witnesses.

Charlie Phelps said if a situation were to arise they would handle any potential conflict.