Town hall speakers show support for saving Lake police department

Contributed by Marieke Henry

A majority of registered speakers at the Security Town Hall meeting held on March 2, expressed the desire to do whatever it takes to maintain our private police force. Speaker Rick Roth (and Chair of the LMOA Finance Committee) offered the community a dose of reality. “The budget is tight,” he stated. “You want to support the police force…are you willing to support an increase in dues so we can pay for it?” This is a question LMOA members will get the chance to answer in the coming months.

According to guest speaker Ryant Washington, former Fluvanna County Sheriff and independent consultant working with LMOA, an additional $241,000 per year is needed to raise LMPD to the desired level of service in a growing community of approximately 12,000 residents. That amounts to a $50-$60 annual dues increase per household. Managing the current budget would require reducing service to a level that may not be ideal for the community.

Washington presented three other possible options: replacing LMPD with a private security firm (which would also require a $50-$60 annual dues increase) and two hybrid solutions with a mix of police officers and security guards. The cost of the hybrid variations would depend on the combination of variables.

Greg Hughes, one of eight registered speakers, compared the proposed dues increase to one tank of gas for his truck and said it was a cost he was willing to pay as LMPD was a reason he moved to Lake Monticello.

Brian DiLorenzo, a former chief of police for two small villages, also indicated that many people choose to live at Lake Monticello because it has a private police force. He would like to see LMOA get more creative with recruiting. In his experience, converting LMPD to a county satellite station would not work, and he said the thought of doing away with LMPD “scares me to death.”

Bob Hollbrook asked the community to consider the risk of having a private police force. “Please review why Massanutten decided to remove their police department,” Hollbrook said. “The primary reason was liability. Something we have to think about is police departments being sued. They have an insurance policy to cover such matters…the insurance can get exceeded…who pays for that? Lake Monticello does.” In contrast, David Boardman felt security guards would be a liability. He also said he valued LMPD’s quick response time.

Glenn Ruskin pointed to metrics provided by LMPD Chief of Police Tony Abbott on, saying a private security firm could not address at least 700 calls received by LMPD in 2021 because of authoritative restrictions. (Security guards, for example, cannot respond to crimes in progress at private residences, only common areas.) He said disbanding the police would be to abandon a privilege and distinction.

David Webster, who has sat on the Board at five different HOAs, said his concern with security firms is that their number one priority is to make a profit; therefore, they make behind-the-scenes decisions that are not necessarily good for the community.

Steve Smith gave a heartfelt reminder that security at the Lake began in 1973 because of a persistent problem with trespassers and burglaries and that the 2019 dues increase led to improvements to LMOA facilities that our community can be proud of.

“I smile when I get our annual dues statement,” he remarked. “I know where my money goes and how much we get for every dollar. Our roads, playgrounds, golf course, Lake, pond, marina, beaches, new Pub, pool, Ashlawn, tennis courts, and all the rest make me proud to say I live at Lake Monticello.”

Residents can still use the to submit feedback or sign up to speak at the next Board meeting (March 24) by emailing 

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