By Todd Travis
Before getting into law enforcement, Bargersville Police Chief Todd Bertram admits that he was on the wrong side of trouble until he finally got things together and set course to wear a badge.
“I was a troubled kid in my late middle school years and early high school years in the Center Grove school system. I finally got it together and realized law enforcement would probably be the thing I would be best at,” Bertram remembered.
His first job in law enforcement came in 1999 where he worked as a corrections officer in a jail. From there he moved to the Trafalgar Police Department for a couple of years and then wound up at the Bargersville Police Department in 2002.
He didn’t necessarily set out to become police chief, but over time, the position naturally opened up for him.
“I just kept taking on more and more as time went on. It was investigations and training and then I eventually became deputy chief. It evolved to the point where a chief position opened up and everyone was looking at me, but I didn’t feel ready for it at the time. So they brought in another chief for a couple of years and when he left, I thought ‘All right, I think I’m ready now,'” Bertram explained.
Bertram realized that for him, the biggest challenge with police work was actually the mental challenges that were present with the work – especially with the police academy.
“Before I got into law enforcement, I had worked at factories which were physically challenging. As I made the transition into law enforcement, I realized how mentally challenging it was. I probably had some attention deficit going on, so probably the hardest thing was learning in a group environment at the academy. It’s not like a college class where you could just go back to your dorm and quietly study,” Bertram said.
As police chief, Bertram has enjoyed growing the department and seeing it develop as the town has also been growing quickly over the last few years.
“In the last four years we’ve put on a total of four people and a canine during that period. My goal is to guide the processes for our officers and make sure that we put out the kind of officers that the town wants,” Bertram explained.
Outside of work, Bertram finds joy in being a dad and a grandpa.
What do you consider your greatest virtue? I would hope that people would see the way that I treat people. As far as the job goes, a bad guy isn’t always a bad guy. People grow up and people change. I hope that people would take away from me is to know what’s right and do what’s right and do unto others as you would have done to you.
What do you most deplore in others? A sense of entitlement. I had to earn my way and everyone else does too.
What do you like most about living in Johnson County? I live in Bargersville, and I love that it’s a small town. I always say small-town people are spoiled by knowing everyone and taking care of each other. Just like the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a family.”
If you had to live anywhere else outside of Johnson County, where would you live? I’d like to live in another small town. One that stands out is Miramar Beach, Fla.
If you could begin life over, what would you change? I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’ve debated that, and everything that’s happened in my life has made me who I am. Even the bad stuff.
If money were no issue, how would you spend it? Money is just money, but I like cars. I’ve always dreamed of a backyard oasis with a pool where you can go hide and I’d have a garage full of my favorite cars.
What makes you happiest? My family – that’s my rock and what keeps my sanity.
What’s your favorite vacation spot? I love St. George Island in Florida. It was so much fun.
What do you do with idle time? Spend time with kids, do my honey-do list at home and fly some drones.
What is it that makes you angry? A point of contention for me is trying to explain to younger people how we got to this spot as a country and as a world and even as a town. History repeats itself because we don’t learn from it and it’s just frustrating not to be able to explain that to people.
What do you do to escape from reality? Spend time with family and fly drones.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My daughters and my wife. Girls rule and boys drool and that’s just the way it is.
Which living person in Johnson County do you most admire? My grandpa has passed away but was a WWII vet and had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.
What is the quality you most like in a person? Their ability to dedicate to discipline. When you say you’re going to do something you gotta do it. I don’t like to hear “no,” I like to hear, “Why can’t we get there and how we can get there?”
What’s your greatest extravagance? I would probably say firearms. I have quite the collection and they’re always coming out with newer, cooler ones. So I probably spend too much money on that.
What is your greatest fear/phobia? Probably failure. I know that everyone fails, but really you don’t really fail unless you give up.
What has been the happiest time in your life? Every holiday we have all the family together. We might have 50-60 people together at the house. It’s always a pain but a pleasure at the same time.
What talent would you most like to possess? If I could have a photographic memory that would be amazing!
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty, of course. I have some really good friends that would come to my aid at the drop of a hat, even though we don’t see each other but a couple times a year.
What historical figure do you most identify with? I really like Steve Harvey. I know he’s not a historical figure, but I just like his take on life.
What’s your biggest regret? Not being a better money manager. Back in high school I laughed when they told me that investing $50 per month would make me a millionaire later in life, but I wish I had listened.
What tenet do you live by? Do unto others as you would have done to you.