LMOA seeks additional police officers

Press release

The Lake Monticello Police Department (LMPD) continues to experience a staff shortage. Though the Lake community should be a coveted workplace, noncompetitive law enforcement salaries make it difficult to attract additional officers. The Lake’s patrol officers are down by half, with the remaining police stretched to cover shifts. In an effort to improve recruitment and retention, Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) Management has decided to adjust salaries.

Bumping up the starting salary, wage increases for the existing officers, and retention bonuses were agreed upon by LMOA management late last week. “Our police department’s upper management and supervision are jumping in to cover shift duties where ever they can, with help from the sheriff’s office, to ensure adequate coverage,” General Manager Steve Hurwitz explained. “But when you do that over a very long period, it becomes hard on the team.”

Hurwitz said that as a short-term solution, pay adjustments will hopefully make the positions more attractive. He said roughly 11percent of annual dues per household (about $12/month) goes towards funding LMPD. “Wage increases as a long-term solution may not be sustainable,” he said. “That is why the Board continues to research all possible solutions, including contracting private security.”

Earlier this month, the Board of Directors stated a private security firm can offer more officers, more hours of Water Safety Patrol, and youth engagement programs for a cost similar to what LMOA currently budgets for LMPD. “But it’s just one of a multitude of considerations, and we are far from any kind of decision,” Hurwitz stressed. “A long-term solution requires fully engaging the membership. We encourage all members to get involved by emailing viewpoints and suggestions to securitysolutions@lmoa.org, which has been well-publicized.”

The special email address was created by the Board to consolidate membership feedback. The question of whether or not LMOA needs a police force has surfaced multiple times over the years. Many members of the Lake community say a private police department was the deciding factor to buy real estate at Lake Monticello whereas others feel the department is too expensive.

“With some 12,000 residents, LMOA is like a city,” LMPD Chief of Police Tony Abbott said. “On a weekly basis, we record over 50,000 gate entries and answer thousands of calls a year. We patrol over 60 miles of private roads, and are right here and ready for immediate action during emergencies, including assisting our maintenance team with clearing roads after storms. When it comes to law enforcement, we are able to take additional steps private security can’t take.”

The pros and cons of maintaining a private police force will be thoroughly researched in the coming months. Meanwhile, the LMOA Staff, Board of Directors, LMPD and the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Department work hand in hand to ensure the continued safety of the Lake Monticello Community. Together, the community will decide on a long-term solution.

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