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Two Wilmington Police Department officers suspended, under investigation for separate incidents

The Wilmington Police Department headquarters on Bess Street.
Benjamin Schachtman
The Wilmington Police Department headquarters on Bess Street.

The first officer was suspended in March as the Wilmington Police Department called the state in to investigate his off-duty behavior. The second officer was suspended in April after California authorities began investigating unspecified financial crimes.

Update: District Attorney Ben David's office said there was no evidence of criminal behavior by Officer Robert Ferencak.

“The District Attorney’s Office consulted with the State Bureau of Investigation regarding their investigation of Officer Ferencak. There was no evidence of criminal activity uncovered during this investigation. Questions regarding this officer’s status with the agency should be directed to the Wilmington Police Department,” the DA’s office said in a statement provided to WECT.

Both officers are currently on administrative leave, suspended pending separate investigations.

Robert Ferencak

Officer Robert J. Ferencak was suspended on March 20, according to personnel records provided by the City of Wilmington.

That’s the same date the Wilmington Police Department (WPD) contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to request an investigation into one of their officers.

While the SBI will only name individuals who have been arrested, charged, or indicted, a spokesperson confirmed the investigation into an “allegation of inappropriate conduct by an officer with the Wilmington Police Department while off duty” had been requested on March 20 and was still ongoing. Several sources familiar with the situation confirmed that Ferencak was under state investigation — but could not provide confirmed details of what the “inappropriate conduct” was.

Ferencak was hired in early 2013 and was recently promoted to corporal in January of this year.

Aricka Sidbury

Detective Aricka Sidbury was suspended on April 19, as first reported by StarNews on Monday.

Sidbury is currently being investigated by California authorities for financial crimes, according to a letter provided by the office of District Attorney Ben David.

In the letter, written the day after Sidbury’s suspension, David seeks to preemptively recuse his office from prosecuting any charges against Sidbury for criminal activity in North Carolina, asking the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys to handle the case. This is standard practice to avoid the impression of a conflict of interest.

“Detective Sidbury is a violent crime detective for the Wilmington Police Department and we have recently learned of conduct that is the subject of an investigation in California. California authorities notified the WPD this week that their investigation is financial in nature. Due to the amount of money that is allegedly involved and the conflict that our office would have prosecuting a detective who works so closely with our office, I am requesting that a prosecutor from the Conference of District Attorneys Financial Crimes Unit be assigned,” David wrote.

It is not clear which California agency is investigating Sidbury. WHQR has requested additional information from the California Department of Justice.

Sidbury was hired in 2012. She was celebrated in the 2020 “Wilmington 40 under 40 Award” feature and was featured in WPD’s Behind the Badge series in 2021.

The Wilmington Police Department does not comment on ongoing investigations or personnel matters.

Below: Ben David's letter to the NC Conference of District Attorneys

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.