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By Rickey Wilkerson
Owner of Frederic’s Flowers
At a recent Neighborhood Awareness meeting held at the Municipal Building, a number of local business people and property owners voiced their concerns about the cherry picking tactics being used by the City Police Department surrounding Clam Diggers. They have been following customers leaving the establishment and writing tickets for DUI, Drunk in Public an any other ticket they can (don’t drive around with a tail light out, they will get you!), while it appears the rest of the city goes un-policed. Police Chief Day and Sgt. Harmony were both present at the meeting and seemed very defensive and claimed that this was not the case. And if it was the case, they were not aware. The number of people who have witnessed this “harassment” and “stalking” made it clear that this is the perception of the citizens of Bedford.
I understand that the Police Department has been clamoring for more officers. For what?? To put a 4th officer in the one square block surrounding Clam Diggers? It appears to me that more eyes should be on Blue Ridge Avenue, where there were 66 complaints last month. I know the price of fuel is up, but to park in the one square block surrounding one restaurant is not policing and protecting the city, it’s harassment of one business and its patrons, and it is unjustified.
The actions of the City Police Department are out of hand. With only a handful of retailers remaining in the central business district, Main Street, the Bedford Chamber of Commerce, all owners of downtown real estate should assess if this is the type of police protection that the City of Bedford requires. If it continues, more downtown businesses will close and the reputation of what used to be the World’s Best Little Town will be irreparably tarnished.
It was made clear at this meeting also that unless a citation is written, there is no record of City Police activities. When some of the complaints were voiced at the meeting, Sgt. Harmony asked for specifics, such as time, place, squad care number and officer involved. Who would think to get all this information if you weren’t given a citation? What this tells us is that everyone must start to be vigilant in keeping records of such activities. If you are tailed in your vehicle by a marked or unmarked car, or if you are pulled over and believe you were targeted unfairly, you need to document it! Get as much information as you can. If you are being tailed by a care and are unsure of whether or not it’s an officer, play it safe and dial 911. Report what is happening. If the citizens of Bedford come together on this, we can make a positive difference in what happens in our community! City and county residents alike, we need everyone to be on board. If you’re a county resident and you like to drive through downtown or conduct business downtown, then surely you know what we’re talking about. Please help keep our downtown area alive. We’ve worked very hard for a very long time to get it where it is today! Historic Centertown/Downtown Bedford is a place for local citizens to be proud of and a place to welcome visitors and tourists. It will not continue to be that way if the police drive everyone away. Who wants to visit a town that is known as a “cop town” and the slightest thing could cause them to get pulled over? This is what is happening!
If you have complaints, please contact your city council, city manager, mayor and/or police department. You can also submit your own letter to the Bulletin. We’re in this together!