9.4 – Consideration of Law Enforcement and Privacy
Citizens and property owners may wish to consider what entity would be responsible for providing law enforcement services, both currently and after Massanutten would be incorporated into a town. A summary of this consideration is included in table below. Please refer to Section V of this report for more details.
Currently, citizens and property owners in Massanutten Village receive law enforcement services from the Massanutten Property Owners Association (MPOA). The remaining citizens and property owners of the Massanutten community receive law enforcement services from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department. The MPOA «Police» Department is a non-governmental entity with seven (7) «Special Conservators of the Peace» officers authorized by the Rockingham County Circuit Court to enforce laws only within the boundaries of Massanutten Village. The MPOA «Police» Department also has five (5) gate attendants who screen vehicles entering into Massanutten Village and count those vehicles associated with MPOA and those vehicles coming from the general public to patronize Great Eastern Resorts businesses. MPOA Property owners privately fund these services and are civilly liable for any misconduct of MPOA officers. MPOA is not eligible to receive any grants from the state or federal government and MPOA is not eligible to enter into any mutual aid agreements with governmental law enforcement agencies. However, the MPOA law enforcement services are networked into the «911» Emergency Communications Center funded by Rockingham County.
If Massanutten incorporated into a town, citizens and property owners along with all visitors and businesses would receive law enforcement services from the Town of Massanutten. The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department could assist an incorporated town Massanutten Police Department with law enforcement within the incorporated boundaries, if needed. The Town Police Department could consist of eleven (11) officers, one administrative assistant, and no gate attendants. The Town Police Department would be funded via town taxes and would be eligible for state and federal government grants. It would also be eligible to enter into mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies and networked into the «911» Emergency Communications Center funded by Rockingham County. An incorporated town of Massanutten would incur less civil liability for the misconduct of their Police Officers, than MPOA would incur for its Special Conservators of the Peace.
Additionally, citizens and property owners may also wish to consider how safety, security, and privacy would be affected, if Massanutten incorporated into a town. A summary of this consideration is included in table below. Please refer to Section V of this report for more details.
Currently, MPOA provides law enforcement and security coverage in Massanutten Village with one (1) «Special Conservator of the Peace» and one (1) «Gate Attendant», twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. The MPOA Police Chief reports directly to the MPOA Administrator. Rockingham County provides law enforcement coverage outside of Massanutten. If Massanutten incorporated into a town, the Town would provide law enforcement coverage in the Town of Massanutten with at least two (2) Police Officers, twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. The Town of Massanutten Police Chief would report directly to the Town Mayor — essentially answering to the town citizens. Town Police Officers would be sworn to «protect and serve» Town of Massanutten citizens.
Currently, Massanutten Village is a private-gated residential community — except for its subdivision of Piney Mountain which lies outside of the security gate. MPOA Gate Attendants can limit entry into Massanutten Village. But, it is difficult with the nearly 7,000 vehicles entering each day, of which more the 55% are coming from the general public. MPOA also limits entry into each of its sixteen (16) residential subdivisions with road signs declaring «No Trespassing». However, the success of this limitation is questionable given that the number of trespassing charges in Massanutten Village is similar to other towns in Rockingham County. And, overall Massanutten Village crime rates are on the high side when compared to other town in Rockingham County. If Massanutten incorporated into a town and MPOA turned over its roads to the town, Massanutten Village would no longer be a private-gated community. It would be open to the public with a Police Station positioned in the middle of its main access road (Massanutten Drive) as a deterrent to crime. Crime would be further deterred by the patrol of at least two (2) Police Officers, twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. And, «Private Residential Subdivision» signs could be placed at each residential subdivision entrance, as additional deterrent.
Currently, the MPOA Police Department is actually a privately funded, non-governmental security operation. Therefore, its records are confidential and not available to the public — generally, they are not even available to members of MPOA. However, any charges made by MPOA «Special Conservators of the Peace» are part of the public record, available in the County Courthouse. If Massanutten incorporated into a town and it provided law enforcement services, all Town Police records would be open to the public, except for those normally kept confidential by all government law enforcement agencies, such as juvenile and domestic relations matters.