Acting Chief Richard Flanagan Bringing Changes to Bellaire Police Department
BELLAIRE — In his role as Bellaire’s acting police chief, Richard “Dick” Flanagan is making some changes to the department.
During a recent village council meeting, Flanagan informed members of what he already has changed and his future plans for policing the village. Flanagan, a lieutenant with the department, has been filling in for Chief Michael Kovalyk, who has been on vacation leave for about three weeks.
Kovalyk’s regular work cellphone is no longer working, and he is using a different email address instead of the one hosted by the village.
After the Jan. 4 council meeting, Mayor Vincent DiFabrizio said he was not sure when Kovalyk would be coming back to work, but the mayor noted Kovalyk still has some investigations pending in court.
During the most recent council meeting, Flanagan said he changed the cost of accident reports from $5 apiece to $10. Any statements or photos that go with the reports are now $6 apiece.
“I’d also like the change the cost of mayor’s court costs. Right now, they’re only $56. Most places around here are charging $85 to $95,” he said.
Flanagan said he also changed officers’ work attire from battle-dress uniforms to dress-style uniforms.
“They’re back to wearing regular dress pants and their regular holster, not those wild west cowboy gunslinger holsters. We’re back to wearing the proper and appropriate uniform. It’s more professional looking, and they look more approachable to people that way,” Flanagan said.
He also noted the village needs to replace missing street and alley signs.
“A lot of people are having a tough time when they come into town finding streets and alleys,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said he also wants the department to do away with its Leeds computer, which in the past was used to issue parking tickets to the correct vehicle owner. However, since most of the parking meters are broken, the computer software is obsolete.
“If we can get that Leeds computer removed, we’ll save the village about $8,000 in rent,” Flanagan told council. “By removing that Leeds computer, you guys might want to consider having the parking meters removed. We would still keep the meter man. He could go around like they do in other communities and chalk tires.”
Some members of council noted they had agreed previously to start removing meters around the City Park area.
“By still having the meter man writing tickets, I won’t have to worry about loose change coming up missing or finding parts for meters that are 90 years old. Those meter parts, they don’t even make them anymore,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said when the city does write a parking ticket, instead of using the Leeds computer, it can fax a list of plate numbers to the Belmont County 911 center, which will then send back the correct vehicle owner information.
“We’re paying $8,000 a year for equipment we don’t use and we don’t need,” he added. “If you continue to keep that you will continue to send guys to Columbus for training to be Leeds certified.”
During the meeting, Clerk Tom Sable also noted the parking meter account has about $45,000 in it. However, it took years to build up that amount because the meters continued to break and not be fixed.
Flanagan said if the meters are removed, two-hour parking would still be enforced in the business district with chalk marks on tires. He noted it might be best to give students at the schools parking passes so they would not get tickets.
Flanagan added he still is looking to hire more part-time officers, and he also wants to make the department “more proactive.”
After the most recent council meeting, Village Solicitor Joe Vavra said council entered a closed-door session to discuss potential litigation against the police department. He said he could not divulge many details but noted the village is trying to prevent a possible lawsuit against the police department.