, 2015

Kilmarnock addresses
its police coverage gap

by Renss Greene

KILMARNOCK—Kilmarnock police have begun to fill gaps in coverage, reported police chief Mike Bedell.

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“We’re going to modify our existing coverage to help fill in the gaps,” Bedell told the police and public safety committee on March 6.

“We’re going to adjust schedules so that we can provide some 24-hour coverage,” added town manager Tom Saunders. ”We’re not going to be able to do it every night, but it will be enough that no one’s going to know whether there’s someone on duty or not at three or four or five o’clock in the morning.

“As far as anybody can reasonably know, there’s somebody on duty all the time,” said Saunders.

Committee members and town staff did not see a need to hire additional police. Council member Shawn Donahue pointed out that Kilmarnock falls within the jurisdiction of the Kilmarnock police, both Lancaster and Northumberland sheriff’s offices, and the Virginia State Police.

“When do you say you got enough?” Donahue said. “The number of police officers for the number of residents, we are right in line with state averages. We’re doing good.”

“We could put 20 more officers on duty, you’d still have somebody acting stupid on occasion,” Saunders said.

“I agree that bringing on more officers is not going to solve the problem here,” said vice mayor Emerson Gravatt. “Definitely we’re taking it seriously and looking at alternatives.”

Meanwhile, Saunders reported, the town continues to look into the possibility of installing cameras on Town Hall, 1 North Main Street, Kilmarnock.

“We may follow through on that, and that would be another tool for [police chief] Mike [Bedell],” Saunders said. He added that he had been to a security camera demonstration that morning and intends to bring more information about the camera option to the next town council meeting.

Staff and committee members also pitched other ideas to keep Kilmarnock safe.

“I think we probably can reach out to businesses and residences about ways to be a little smarter about their properties, and have some lighting,” Saunders said. “I’m not a fan of constant lighting, but I think motion lighting.”

Staff and committee members also spoke warmly of the efforts of Kilmarnock’s police.

“The rest of it is just the continuation of what Mike and his folks have been doing all along, which is just good, solid police work,” Saunders said. “They already know who most of our bad actors are, they keep an eye on them, they catch them a lot of the time, they deter them most of the time, and that’s all we can ask.”

The Anchor Pharmacy, 2 South Main Street, Kilmarnock was broken into the night of January 23. According to Bedell, Kilmarnock police responded within 90 seconds of dispatch and found the building empty. The would-be robber apparently grabbed a pill bottle, but dropped it.

Following the incident, pharmacy owner Ken Thompson raised questions about an early-morning gap in Kilmarnock police coverage.

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