Police force stays

Council to interview four of 11 applicants for new chief

By Fred Arnold Telescope publisher

Despite a vote to retain the Belleville police department, the future of the local law enforcement agency is still somewhat murky.

Meeting in special session last Thursday members of the Belleville City Council voted 5-1 to retain the department. City officials had just ended a 90-day trial period whereby the Republic County Sheriff’s Office had covered the daily midnight to 7 a.m. shift for the police department, which is down to two officers.

Council members Shaun Herring, Doane Sells, Dr. Roger McCartney and Adam Robertson voted in favor of keeping the department. Steve Scofield voted against the measure.

City leaders were unusually quiet prior to the vote and had no public comment on the issue. Mayor Blaine Miller had to call for a motion on two occasions before councilman Robertson made a motion, which was then seconded by councilman Herring.

Following the vote to retain the department the council went into executive session to discuss applicants for the full-time police chief’s position. After coming out of closed doors the council voted unanimously to interview four of the 11 people who applied for the ‘top cop’ job.

Councilman Sells told the Telescope that the decision of who to interview rested solely on the council. “The city manager (Neal Lewis) does not have any input on who we interview or who we hire,” he said. “The council will decide all of that.”

Interviews are scheduled to take place this Thursday, June 29. Despite the intention to retain the police department and fill the chief’s position, no discussion was conducted on what size staff the department will have.

The agency which had been at five officers, including the chief, is down to a two-man staff currently.

Facebook ‘inaccurate’

At least one member of the council says he is tired of fighting the police department battle on social media and called for more accurate and tempered reporting when people post comments.

Doane Sells noted that social media, particularly Facebook, was ripe with inaccuracies and negative comments regarding how the City of Belleville is handling the as of yet to be determined role of the police department.

“It will be a blessing for us to move on from this,” he said. “I am tired of this issue being tried on Facebook, and I would encourage people to print (post) what is true and accurate.”