Full force

Council votes to increase size of local police department

By Fred Arnold – Telescope publisher

The “what’s next” has finally been answered.

For more than a few Belleville city council meetings, city manager Neal Lewis has been asking what the next step is going to be as far as either keeping a local police department, keeping the department the same size, making is smaller or adding to the force. On Monday he got his answer.

On a 5-1 vote, with councilman Steve Scofield casting the lone dissenting ballot, council members voted to have Lewis advertise to hire another officer, which would bring the department size to four officers.

“I can do whatever the council wishes,” Lewis said. “But I think we are at a point where we owe it to our police department and the rest of the community to come up with a decision for what’s next.”

“It has been a challenge with three officers,” Lewis related. “We have been forced to rely on the county and if we do not add a fourth officer we will have to continue relying on the county to help us with law enforcement.”

The city manager said that even on the heels of the council vote local residents shouldn’t expect to see a new officer patrolling the streets anytime soon. He said there are many communities in Kansas seeking to add to their law enforcement agencies. Belleville is in a long line of many.

“If we find someone who wants the job and they aren’t certified, we would have to send them to the police academy and honestly we probably would be looking at six months before we could get them on the street,” Lewis added.

Despite the 5-1 vote, council members spent nearly 40 minutes discussing the pros and cons of adding an extra officer.

“If we’re going to do it, we need to get it done,” councilman Adam Robertson said. “We can’t turn around now and go back on it. say we get a fourth police officer. I am totally for it.”

Councilperson Tiffany Hansen said she was not against adding the position but cautioned against the possibility of an ever-growing budget for the department.

“Right now we’re at 60 mills for law enforcement in our community, that is an awful lot,” she said. “I am certainly not against hiring another officer but we have got to do something to cap spending.”

Councilman Steve Scofield said that he simply would not vote to add to the force. He pointed to his belief that there is no evidence that the trial period between the city and county did not work.

“The county has been helping us with law enforcement, why can’t they help us on a permanent basis,” he said. “I cannot vote for it until someone shows me that the city has suffered during the trial period.”

With the okay to add a fourth officer, when hired, the local police department will be within one officer of a full 5-man staff. It is not known whether the city council will seek to add another officer.’

Police Officer – Belleville Police Department

City of Belleville is advertising for the position of Police Officer. Belleville is located at the crossroads of Highway 36 and 81 in North Central, Kansas with a population of 2000. Belleville is a thriving community with a stable economy.

Type: Full-Time

Salary: Salary based on qualifications. Benefits include 9 paid holidays, sick leave, vacation, health insurance, retirement plan, uniforms and equipment.

Minimum Qualifications: The employee is expected to have a high school diploma or equivalent and have a good driving record. Applicants must be 21 years of age and have no criminal history. KLETC certification and prior law enforcement experience preferred, however the City will train non-certified candidate through the KLETC course.

Obtaining an Application: Contact the City Manager, Neal Lewis by email at nlewis@nckcn.com or by phone at (785)527-2288. EOE. Learn more information about the community and download a printable application at www.cityofbellevillekansas.com

Closing Date: Open