Bellaire police still frustrated with pay

BELLAIRE – The wait continues for Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk and his officers.

They haven’t received a raise in eight years and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to that streak.

Kovalyk, again, reiterated his plea for recompense, offering some poignant comments directed at council from his officers during Thursday’s council meeting.

“Every time I bring this up, nothing is done or investigated,” Kovalyk said. “It’s sad because it looks like council is sticking its head in the sand.

“The concern from our officers is that it is personal. They feel council doesn’t represent the officers.

“Council needs to address this issue of a pay raise before we lose any more officers.”

That wasn’t a veiled threat at council. It’s a fact.

Bellaire recently lost one of its full-time officers to a neighboring department because of a better pay scale.

Kovalyk hinted that there may be more following suit.

The department is under paid and under staffed.

Thursday, Kovalyk was the lone officer on duty when the tip came in about a possible mobile meth lab in the north end of town.

Kovalyk went to investigate and wound up spending six hours at the scene, assisting with the initial investigation and waiting for a contamination crew from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to arrive on scene.

During that time, police assistance was requested by code administrator Bill Swoyer.

“I needed the chief’s assistance (Thursday) and I was unable to get it because he was tied up on that call,” Swoyer told council.

Councilman Jim Piatt was the first to speak up, asking Kovalyk about an earlier call to add part-time officers to help bolster his ranks.

Kovalyk has repeatedly noted that in his and his officers’ opinions, part-time officers are not the answer.

Because of the lack of hours and infrequency of work, he believes the part-timers are unable to dedicate the time necessary to properly carry out investigations.

“Part-time officers is not the answer to the problem,” Kovalyk said.

Kovalyk, Mayor Vince DiFabrizio and Councilman Josh Meyers met recently to discuss this very issue.

Meyers took exception to the chief’s comments about a complacent council.

“I know the officers are frustrated,” Meyers began. “But to say that council isn’t concerned about the police is untrue.

“I know we briefly touched on the budget, but we know it’s not in a good situation.

“But we haven’t touched on all aspects of it and we’re going to look into it to see if there is something we can do.”