THE BELLAIRE Police Department has been the subject of much debate for several years now.
The department no longer has its own dispatchers, but rather utilizes Belmont County 911. The police force is challenged by staffing shortages while pay raises haven't been handed out for nearly a decade.
Village council, at its most recent meeting, made an attempt to remedy the situation. Council members passed an ordinance to begin hiring part-time police officers in the village.
Such a vote was triggered by the notion that hiring part-time officers would dramatically reduce the need for full-time officers to work overtime hours, of which the department has been accruing an excessive amount.
The overtime hours accumulated by the police department is nothing short of astronomical. It was reported at the council meeting that police had worked approximately 1,500 overtime hours from the beginning of 2014 to the middle of April.
That is an outrageous number.
It places undo stress on the village's budget as well as the police force. It creates a financial problem and spawns safety concerns, as officers are being pushed past peak performance.
Will part-time officers alleviate both issues? Only time will tell.
Their rate of pay will be $12 an hour, which raised some eyebrows. They do not, however, receive benefits.
Essential for making the plan a success is hiring qualified part-timers. Hiring anyone not equipped to handle the rigors of such a dangerous position heightens safety concerns in a town that already challenges authorities.
Part-time should only refer to the hours worked by the officers and not the commitment or passion they bring to the badge.