Bermuda Run council receives update on new police officer position

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 27, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

A year after hiring a community policing officer, the Bermuda Run Town Council received an update from Sheriff J.D. Hartman in its December meeting on the effectiveness of the new position.

All of the numbers showed the impact of having Jason Robertson on board in that role, and beyond that, the sheriff and town officials noted that the new officer has made a difference with his constant presence, getting to know the residents and businesses, and making the community a safer place to live.

As councilman Rick Cross noted at the time the town entered into an agreement with the Davie County Sheriff’s Department to add the new position: “The community police officer has to get to know the people in the town. This is not just a sheriff’s deputy that drives around. They have to engage people and get to know the residents and the businesses.”

Certainly, the community officer operates in a different kind of environment than the typical law enforcement deputy. Robertson has responded directly to taking more of the calls in Bermuda Run, including 24 of the 94 incident reports (for crimes and major incidents) and a higher percentage of field contact calls for alarms, security checks, suspicious persons, etc.

As councilman Mike Ernst pointed out at the Dec. 11 meeting that having Robertson onboard “literally looks like it’s multiple units here. However, your schedule works, it works very well because you would think there were 10 cars between Bermuda Run West and East and Kinderton.”

That’s a big part of the concept that was introduced by Hartman in 2017 to the town, which had concerns about law enforcement coverage and had previously looked into its relationship with the sheriff’s office under the previous administration to see about enhanced services and if anything could be done differently.

Nothing could be worked out at the time, but when Hartman became sheriff, he offered this new arrangement involving a community officer directly through his office with the town — and not including the county commissioners. The position, which came with a price tag of $76,220 for 2017-18, is above and beyond what the county offers in terms of overall coverage.

The town considers it money well spent with the community officer and Hartman’s appointment of Robertson, who served for 16 years on the police force in Salisbury before coming to the Davie County Sheriff’s Department three years ago.

“We couldn’t have had a better choice than Officer Robertson,” Mayor Ken Rethmeier said.

Town Manager Lee Rollins added that Robertson is the “consummate professional, but he is still able to be a friend to many people.”

In his remarks, Hartman said that Robertson should be even more effective in his role after completing radar certification — and now has the equipment in his vehicle (he has since written 10 citations and 15 warning tickets) — and completing in-service and active shooter training. He has done about 300 business checks since July.

Robertson, when asked how things were going since he came to Bermuda Run a year ago, said: “We’re doing a lot better. We’re not getting as many calls for car break-ins, house break-ins and that kind of thing. Hopefully, what we’re doing is sinking in.”

In a business item in the meeting, the council approved administrative text amendments to comply with recent statutory law changes by the N.C. General Assembly and provide clarity within various sections of the Ordinance following a public hearing where no one spoke.

In other matters, the council heard from Mary Ann Doub, who resides at 147 Bermuda Run North, on behalf of the Maisonettes HOA during the public comments portion of the meeting. She voiced concerns regarding access of emergency vehicles to the north and south ends of Bermuda Run Drive where vehicles are parked on the streets and asked for the council to consider putting up “No Parking” signs on their road.

Also, members of the council and the mayor, in their comments, praised the work of Stacy Cornatzer and his staff for clearing the roads during the recent snowstorm and also the work of Erin Burris, who is leaving her position — in the town’s contract agreement with Benchmark — as the planning and zoning administrator.

“She helped us bring our vision to the forefront and to reality,” Rethmeier said. “We appreciate her contributions to our town.”

Rollins said that the town will now contract with Davie County for those services.