Wed04162014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Two talented women destined to cross paths

Two talented women destined to cross paths

One may call it fate or destiny, but the similarity between two women, Olga Farneth and Velia Jacobo...

School Debt comes full circle for Chairman Trivett

School Debt comes full circle for Chairman Trivett

Colonial Beach School Board Chairman Tim Trivett talked to the town council at the March work sessio...

Legg no stranger to making history

Legg no stranger to making history

Colonial Beach Town Council formally introduced Elizabeth “Libby” Legg as the town’s new permanent C...

Alta Vista poor host to CB during Regional tournament

Alta Vista poor host to CB during Regional tournament

Colonial Beach School Board member Wayne Kennedy aired his disapproval of Alta Vista’s hosting pract...

I Love You Dinner

I Love You Dinner

Cub Scout Pack 258, with the support of the CB Volunteer Rescue Squad, held an “I Love You Dinner” f...

Goodwill opens rack store in Colonial Beach

Goodwill opens rack store in Colonial Beach

The Rappahannock Goodwill Industries held its grand opening at the Beach Gate Shopping Center on Feb...

 

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CBPD responds to Kennedy’s allegations

Write-in mayoral candidate Stephen Kennedy used his three minutes of closing statements during the Colonial Beach Mayor’s Forum to blast Mike Ham for allowing alleged misuse of police vehicles while Ham was chair of the budget and finance committee.
Although write-in candidate for mayor Burkett Lyburn chairs the Safety Committee, Kennedy did not direct his allegations towards him.
Kennedy said, “Fiscal responsibility; Mr. Ham is the chairman of the budget finance committee. Under his watch things have happened here that have disgusted me. We’ve got eight police cars that leave here everyday. They drive an average of 70 miles round trip on your nickle and your dime, your tax dollars. I want to know why. I want to know who authorized it. I want to know why we have to have eight of your vehicles going to Fredericksburg, North Stafford, Caroline County, Hague and Montross.”
Kennedy also accused the CBPD of allowing an individual, who he claims is not an employee of the town, but admits he is and auxiliary officer to drive back and forth so he can come back here on weekends.
Kennedy addressed the voters saying, “He has had the complaints and he has not addressed them for eighteen months this has gone on. This is your tax dollars, do the math. $3.49 cents a gallon... This is happening everyday, now I find out that two of those things are carrying their children to a private school in Tappahanock, Virginia.”
“This is happening every day under the watchful eye of this gentleman here who is supposed to be tracking the budget,” Kennedy charged, adding, “I’m not embarrassed to say this. I’m embarrassed for the town to allow this to go on.”
Ham responded, “I didn’t realize I was running the police department now. I’m not going to get down in the mud over this, we’ve had discussion with the town manager about various departments. The council has talk to some of this. I hate to disappoint Steve but one vote cannot change anything. You need a council working together to address some of these issues. Are we oblivious to them? No we’re not. Am I going to get out there and wave it up and down the street and air our dirty laundry to every citizen? No I am not. But to get off that subject.”
The following day at the committee meetings, Colonial Beach Police Chief Kenneth Blevins Sr. presented council members with a letter in response to Kennedy’s attacks against the police department and councilman Mike Ham.
In his letter Blevins discusses studies performed by various police organizations that show the life expectancy of police vehicles, maintenance and response time of officers are significantly improved when the vehicles are taken home by officers.
Blevins also points out that officers are not required to live in the corporate limits, which if required would limit the applicant pool.
He also says that with the cost of living in Colonial Beach, coupled with low wages offered, it is difficult for officers to relocate to Colonial Beach.
The letter states, “The Colonial Beach police officer’s salaries are still far below average compared to other agencies within the local area. As of July 1 officers are required to contribute to their retirement at a rate of 6%. Current employees were given a 5% increase to offset this contribution leaving a 1% decrease in take home pay. New hires are required to pay the 6% without any increase in starting pay.
“Although it is appreciated and a great savings to the officers with the town paying employee medical benefits, if a spouse or family is added to the medical benefits, the employee must pay approximately $500 to $800 monthly for the additional health insurance. For the majority of the officers working here either it could be most if not all of their take home pay bi-weekly.”
Blevins also states in the letter that the following agencies nearby have a take home car program with a percentage of their officers living outside their own jurisdiction; La Plata, MD, St. Charles County, MD, King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, Caroline County, Virginia State Police and Westmoreland.
Blevins reported he currently has 6 officers assigned take home vehicles that reside outside the town limits. Five officers are within a 30 mile radius with a 45 minute response time if called into duty. One officer is within a 12 mile radius with a 30 minute response time. These officers work 12 hour shifts and the schedule is such that they only work 14 days in a 28 day period. Using the formula for one officer completing a 60 mile round trip, consuming approximately two gallons of gas at $3.50 a gallon per trip, 14 days per month, equals $98 per month per vehicle or approximately $1200 per year per officer.
Blevins also reported that he currently allows two auxiliary officers with full arrest powers to share a vehicle to attend an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course that require a vehicle for training purposes.
Blevins also said that the CBPD is also responsible for transporting civil patients for commitment that are residents from the town. We are sometimes called to hospitals to serve documents on patients already at the hospitals. Having officers on call in areas that serve us in this capacity has also proven to be beneficial and time saving for us and the patient involved.
Blevins ends his response by saying, “After careful consideration of all the factors mentioned above, and our discussions, using other departments as an example including Westmoreland County, I feel the take home car program is a benefit to the town, the department, the community and the officers.”

Linda Farneth

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