Belpre discusses adding to police force

BELPRE – Hiring a tenth officer for the Belpre Police Department was discussed Monday by Belpre City Council with the safety-service director calling the hiring a top priority.

“A tenth officer, to me, is a top priority,” said Dave Ferguson, safety-service director.

Ferguson said his car was entered Sunday night, and while nothing was taken from his car he said items were taken from the cars of two neighbors.

“They are not looking for big items,” he said. “They are looking for pocket change, bridge tickets and things they can put in their hands and walk away.”

Ferguson said the criminals are not interested in things like GPS units or iPhones.

“A tenth officer might not save anything from happening like last night,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s going to stop all crime. The larcenies are petty now but they will get worse.”

Ferguson said something needs to be done to stop crime before it gets out of hand.

“It may be petty larceny but it’s a start,” he said. “If we don’t change now it could mean someone walking through the door or opening a window. If we don’t get a hand on it now, it’s a disease that does not stop.”

William Gilbert, chairman of the police and fire committee, asked for a meeting with the finance department to discuss the finances of the hiring.

Susan Abdella, chair of the finance committee, said she would like more data about the costs for an additional officer and how the city would be able to sustain the costs for the next decade.

“I would like to have a copy of the contract and pay scale so I will know what it will cost us. I’d like to know if we have any anticipation of where the funds will come from to cover it and how it will help us reduce current costs and a mock schedule,” she said.

Abdella asked for a meeting to take place before the next council meeting.

A joint meeting of the finance and police-fire committees was set for 6:30 p.m. before the next meeting on June 23.