Boone Police holds annual forum to address use of force, drugs, noise


Boone Police held its annual forum Oct. 6 to discuss their operations in the community.

Will Hofmann and Abby Majors

Boone Police held its fourth annual public forum Oct. 6 to address questions from the public and the Boone Town Council regarding its operations and actions in the past year.

Originally scheduled to be held in April, the forum was rescheduled after two deputies, Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox, were killed during a welfare check which led to a 13-hour stand-off

Boone Police Chief Andy Le Beau addressed their passing, along with highlighting the challenging situation of attempting to recover the downed officers while under gunfire and the officers who were involved in the recovery. 

“April 28 was the day we were supposed to do our police forum this year, but things took a different turn that day,” Le Beau said. “A very unexpected turn.” 

The forum also covered several topics, including drug enforcement, traffic, lethal action, body cameras and chokeholds.

Capt. Daniel Duckworth addressed concerns over whether or not Boone Police officers are authorized to use chokeholds and in what circumstances they would be allowed.

“The short answer is no. The Boone Police Department is not authorized to use chokeholds. If circumstances were present that justify such an extraneous action, it would be considered deadly force,” Duckworth said. “For an officer to do this, it is only justified in the defense of themselves or a third party.” 

A new policy regarding the use of force guidelines was released Oct. 1, outlining that Boone Police officers must “intercede and report” if another officer is using excessive force, Duckworth said. 

After Duckworth spoke about the use of chokeholds, Maj. Shane Robbins spoke about traffic and noise violations and the use of exhaust mufflers in Boone. Robbins said the issue is prevalent regardless of location in Boone and is usually difficult to catch due to limited police man-power. 

Council Member Sam Furgiuele said the forum gave him confidence in Boone Police but reiterated the issue of the muffler ordinance. 

“I’ve had a number of complaints about it from people,” Furgiuele said. “I see it and hear it nightly, and it’s every night.” 

Furgiuele said the issue is a “matter of quality of life,” finding he could often hear trucks with mufflers at any time of day, and that it’s “become a bigger issue in the past year.”

Duckworth also addressed  Boone Police’s drug enforcement policy because some states have legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

“We don’t really direct any resources right now at marijuana enforcement,” Duckworth said. “Our main focus as a drug unit is making and maintaining relationships with the district attorney’s office and United States Attorney’s Office.” 

Duckworth said the drug unit largely focuses on the disruption of drug trafficking organizations and the distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, opiates and cocaine.  Two App State students were arrested in December and charged in connection with a drug ring spanning across multiple North Carolina universities. 

Le Beau also mentioned Boone Police’s activity during the Black Lives Matter protests in the past year, finding that moderating these protests “posed serious challenges.” However, Le Beau said these challenges made them better.

“It created a great opportunity for us to develop relationships,” Le Beau said. “We had not had large-scale protests in the Town of Boone that entirely filled up King Street. We got through it, and we are stronger because of it.” 

The Boone Police were “pleased” to work on the issues brought up in recent protests, Le Beau said, stating that the Boone Police found friends in the organizers and protestors.  

Le Beau also mentioned the Sept. 4 event where an App State student said he was racially profiled by Boone Police. The two parties resolved the incident after Boone Police showed the student body-cam footage. Le Beau said the student was invited to attend the forum but had chosen not to.

Le Beau said Boone Police have built several relationships with local organizers and interested parties to hopefully develop a local “police committee,” which would help monitor and convey community opinion on police actions. 

“It was a big thing for the Town of Boone,” Le Beau said. “I’m pleased to say that we as a community — not just the Boone Police — came together.”