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Bellaire Village Council Asked To Look at Police Wages

Photo by Shelley Hanson Bellaire Village Solicitor Michael Shaheen, left, talks to Bellaire police Chief Dick Flanagan about ways to pay for increasing officers’ wages on Thursday.

BELLAIRE — Police Chief Dick Flanagan asked Bellaire Village Council to consider raising the starting wage for officers in his department.

During a regular council meeting Thursday, Flanagan said his department is losing officers to departments that pay higher wages.

He said the department is down to only having five officers not including himself. The starting wage in Bellaire is $13.42 per hour. Flanagan said this wage is much lower than other local departments’ starting salaries.

He said Powhatan Point police officers start out making $17 per hour; $17.15 in Shadyside; $17.25 in Bridgeport; $20.34 in Martins Ferry; $15 in Barnesville with an increase to $17 after a year; and $24.53 in St. Clairsville.

Flanagan said his lieutenant who has been with the department for many years makes $18.93 per hour.

“They’re leaving for higher wages,” he said. “I haven’t asked council for anything. … We need a competitive wage so we can start to get better people and keep people here.”

Auditor Tom Sable said he would begin “crunching some numbers” to figure out what the village could afford. Flanagan said his officers are working overtime to cover all the necessary shifts. Village Solicitor Michael Shaheen estimated that what is paid out in overtime could possibly help the village afford higher wages for officers.

Flanagan said at one time the department had nine officers total, but was “still understaffed.”

“If you combined four of those departments’ calls they don’t come close to the calls we handle and the situations we handle,” Flanagan said. “The officers who have left didn’t want to leave. They didn’t have a problem with the administration. … It’s about the money.”

Flanagan added his officers also do their jobs well every day patrolling the streets.

In other department news, Flanagan said his department’s full-time officers are set to receive new body cameras thanks to a grant secured by Lt. JJ Watson.

In other matters, Councilman Donnie Maupin informed Mayor Vince DiFabrizio that a few lights on Belmont Street in front of Gulla’s and other businesses are not working. Maupin expressed concern for people trying to cross the street in this area at night.

DiFabrizio said he believed those particular lights are all on the same circuit that needs to be fixed.

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