Police honor Amy Bertsch for years of service to the city


For 11 years, most Alexandrians have known her as a spokesperson for the Alexandria Police Department. Police officers know her as someone who gets coverage for stories about the department in the best possible way. The reporters who have worked with her on stories know her as a consummate professional who is responsive and helpful. Amy Bertsch is leaving her job as a public information officer for the police department next week but she is not going far. She will become the public information officer for the Office of Historic Alexandria.

On Tuesday night, members of the Alexandria Police Association recognized her service to the department by presenting her with a leadership award and naming the first annual Alexandria Police Association scholarship in her honor.

Each year, the association will recognize one of our members who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and we will give a T. C. Williams High School student a scholarship in that persons name. Amy is our first recipient. This year, we will give a scholarship to a student who plans to pursue a career in either law enforcement or journalism, said Sgt. Stafford Farmer-Lee. The names of the recipients of the leadership award and of the students who receive the scholarships will be engraved on a plaque, which will be displayed here in the association hall. The winners of the award will receive a glass figurine.

Kind words
Chief David Baker presented the award to Bertsch saying, Eleven years ago, we advertised a position for a public information officer. We received an outstanding application and I was fortunate enough to be on the panel that selected Amy. Eleven years ago, we got it right. Amy has done a remarkable job and we will miss her, he said.

Eric Lemke, the newly elected president of the Alexandria Police Association said, Amy has accomplished many things while she has been with the police department. One of the most important things she has done is research and write the first book about our department. She has also been instrumental in finding families of fallen officers and reconnecting them with their police family here. This year, she found three law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty and whose names have never been placed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial. Thanks to her efforts, two of those officers will be added this year, he said.

One of those officers was a night watchman who was killed in Alexandria in 1827 and the other was a Southern Railroad officer who was killed in the city in 1935. A third officer, a constable, was killed here in 1823. The paperwork to request that his name be added to the Memorial is in progress.

All of the officers have made my job easy, Bertsch said. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have had to apologize for something an officer with this department has done and there arent many PIOs in many jurisdictions who can say that. I am grateful to everyone for giving me the opportunity to work with all of you.

In the past 11 years, Bertsch has provided information about many crimes. I dont investigate cases, just provide information about them, she said. The most difficult case was Kevin Shiffletts murder. It was such a terrible crime and for two months we didnt know who committed it and if other people were in danger. Fortunately, we were able to identify the person who killed Kevin and make an arrest.

Bertsch, a West Virginia University graduate, is interested in local history and plans to pursue a masters degree in history at George Mason University. I am looking forward to continuing to work for the city in another very challenging position with the Office of Historic Alexandria, she said.