Bertie lawmen promoted

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

WINDSOR – Make a difference.

Two men assuming new roles within the Narcotics Division of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office each said that was their goal.

Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins recently promoted Kenny Gilliam to Sergeant in charge of the Narcotics Division and elevated Kenny Cobb from Patrol Corporal to Narcotics Agent.

Both men said they accepted the new assignments because they want to make a difference in Bertie County.

“This is an area in which we can make a difference,” Sgt. Gilliam said. “I want to make a difference and help get drugs off of our streets.”

Cobb echoed those same thoughts.

“I want to make a difference,” Cobb said. “I want to try to get drugs off the street and make Bertie County a better place to live.”

Sheriff Atkins said he believed the two would make a difference and that he was looking forward to what they would do in the narcotics division.

“Kenny Gilliam has been doing a good job in the Narcotics Division and when Frank Timberlake left us, he was the most experienced and the obvious choice to move into that position,” Atkins said. “Kenny Cobb had done a good job in patrol and I felt like he would help us in fighting drugs.”

Gilliam said his main focus as he takes over the Narcotics Division will be to return to prosecuting smaller drug dealers.

“We’ve gotten away from going after the smaller scale dealers,” Gilliam said. “I want to get back to that and let them lead to the bigger dealers.

Atkins added, “Those dealers are the ones people complain about. The larger level dealers are not the ones kicking in your door and stealing your VCR.”

Atkins said that he and Gilliam had talked about the need to have the community involved and answering the needs of the community.

“I want us to make it a priority to work the complaints we receive from citizens,” Atkins said. “It is not possible to eliminate drugs with the resources we have, but we can make it a top priority to take care of the complaints of our citizens.”

Gilliam said citizen involvement was necessary for the sheriff’s office to do their job well.

“We need feedback from the community,” he stressed. “We do not know where all of the dealers are, but if you are living next door to one you know and we need to be informed.”

Atkins said the other reason a focus would be on lower level drug dealers is because those are the people mainly distributing illegal narcotics in the county.

“I think sometimes there’s a perception that there is one ‘big’ drug dealer in Bertie County and if we could somehow get that person, we would stop the sale of drugs in the county,” Atkins said. “That person simply doesn’t exist.

“We don’t have that type of person here for the same reason we don’t have a super Wal-Mart: there just isn’t a population base for it,” he added. “We have small-level people who are selling to their friends and others and those are the people we need to get off the street. The drug organization in Bertie County is very loose.”

Gilliam also said he would begin working closer with agencies inside and outside Bertie County.

“The drug dealers don’t pay any attention to county lines,” Gilliam said. “If Hertford County or Northampton County has a drug problem, we have a drug problem and vice versa.”

Sgt. Gilliam has spent the past five and a half years working drugs in Bertie County, first with the Roanoke-Chowan Narcotics Task Force and then with the sheriff’s office.

He said he had enjoyed the work and looked forward to continuing to battle drugs in the county.

Cobb was a Military Police Officer who came back to his native Bertie County and began work with the sheriff’s office six years ago.

“When I left the Army, I came and talked to the sheriff,” Cobb said. “He hired me and sent me to school and I’ve been here ever since.

“I can’t think of anything else I would rather do or anywhere I would rather do it,” Cobb said. “This is home.”

Because Bertie County is home for both officers, they have made a commitment to make it a better place to live by removing drugs from the streets.