Rumors that Fenwick Island police were slow to respond to a Sept. 14 bank robbery in the town due to staffing and communication problems are unfounded, according to town council members.
At the Oct. 8 workshop-without-agenda, the council members were quick to quash the rumor that South Bethany police — and not the town’s own officers — were the first law enforcement officers on the scene at Mercantile Peninsula Bank after the noontime robbery.
The rumor alleged that with one officer at home on a lunch break, FIPD Chief Colette Sutherland had been making her rounds of the town on the Segway transportation device recently purchased to keep her more visible and that she had been out of communication while on the Segway.
Thus, the rumor went, neither officer had been quick to respond to bank employees’ reports of the robbery.
Mayor Peter Frederick categorically declared that rumor false Saturday, clearing up any notion that the Segway does not allow communication with emergency officials or other FIPD officers.
In fact, Frederick said, FIPD officers responded to the scene of the robbery within three minutes.
Council Member and former Public Safety Commissioner Theo Brans offered specifics of theincident to further clarify any misbegotten rumors.
Sutherland, he said, was on duty at the police station at the time and immediately dispatched officer Steven Majewski to the bank when the call came in. She then notified both the South Bethany and Ocean City police departments for assistance — standard procedure when dealing with a major crime in the town, Brans said.
The council members also addressed related questions about police staffing at the Oct. 8 workshop. With Sutherland serving as backup to any single officer on duty, they said, there are normally at least two officers available in the town at any point in time during business hours on weekdays.
However, that level may drop to a single officer at night or on weekends, particularly outside of the summer season.
Brans made a firm request that anyone wondering about the truth of rumors regarding municipal matters in the town make the town hall their first stop and ask questions of officials before assuming the rumors to be true.