Fayetteville police chief retiring

Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine
January 3, 2012 9:59:08 AM PST
Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine says he plans to retire this year. His last day will be July 1.

Bergamine took over as chief in April 2007, replacing Tom McCarthy, who retired earlier that year. He has served the department for more than three decades - beginning as a patrol officer and working his way up.

"After talking with my wife, I have decided now it the best time for me to retire," he said Tuesday. "I will not rest on my heels as my retirement date on July 1st draws closer. We will continue to participate in partnerships with the community and look to expand them in the future."

Bergamine said it has been his honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Fayetteville.

"Long after I leave, I am confident the good work of the Fayetteville Police Department will continue," he said.

Earlier this year, Bergamine was a finalist for the position of chief in Kansas City, but did not get the job.

Bergamine has weathered some controversies during his tenure as chief. Last year, the department was criticized for not reporting sexual assaults in the city after a series of attacks.

Police said they were concerned about revealing confidential information that could jeopardize cases, but critics said it was important potential victims know about attacks so they could plan for safety. After a contentious city council meeting, Fayetteville's mayor ordered a change in the department's reporting policy.

Then in late 2011, the Fayetteville City Council also approved a new policy for traffic stop searches after it was revealed that police had a record of stopping and searching three times as many African American drivers as white drivers.

Bergamine denied his officers were involved in racial profiling - instead saying most of the stops were in high population and high crime areas.

Bergamine has also had his successes. In March, ABC11 reported a 30 percent crime rate drop in the troubled Massey Hill neighborhood. Bergamine said at the time that it was due to cooperation and commitment.

"Since announcing my retirement to my fellow officers, one question continues to pop up, 'What do you see as your legacy,'" he said in a statement Tuesday. "My answer is simple, a Community Wellness Plan that has helped to reduce the crime index rate to the lowest levels seen in 30 years."

Assistant Police Chief Phil Cannady is also planning to retire. His last day will be in April.

Fayetteville has nearly 400 police officers and over a hundred civilian workers.

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