Bellaire Chief announces retirement

BELLAIRE — Bellaire Police Chief Dick Flanagan announced he will retire as chief effective April 1.

While giving his report to Bellaire Village Council at Thursday’s meeting, Flanagan informed members that the meeting would be his last.

“I am retiring the first of the month,” he said. “It’s been a privilege working here, had fun, got a lot of stuff accomplished, got to do a lot of things so my time has come and gone.”

Flanagan then recommended that council name Lt. J.J. Watson as his replacement.

“Lt. Watson is extremely intelligent. He knows that computer system inside and out. He has also trained two other police departments on that system. He’s very street smart, he’s a professional police officer, he’s very competent, plus he has the experience. When I’m not here, he’s in charge. He does the payroll, he does the scheduling, he does the testing for CPTs. He’s been doing everything I was supposed to do in my absence — making phone calls, answering emails and all of that stuff. He’ll be an exceptional police chief, he’ll be very good,” he said.

Council members congratulated Flanagan on his retirement and thanked him for his service.

“You’ll be missed,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Dugmore said.

Questions then arose regarding the position of code enforcement officer, which Flanagan also holds.

Watson, who was present at the meeting, said he believes an ordinance states that the police chief also holds that title and agreed to take on the role.

Mayor Ed Marling said he would swear in Watson at a later time; however, Solicitor T.J. Schultz said “there’s a little more to it than that.”

“There’s an appointment by the mayor then a confirmation from council, then the mayor swears in,” he added.

“I can do that at anytime yinz want to do that,” Marling said.

A committee meeting will be held to discuss the matter further, then an appointment will be made during council’s next meeting set for 6 p.m. April 6.

Flanagan has worked for the village police department for 27 1/2 years, acting as the chief since 2017 before being appointed to the position in March 2018.

Following the meeting, Flanagan said he put his time in and it’s now a good time to leave.

“I left on my own terms when I was ready to go. My health is still good. Me and the wife are still young, and we can spend a lot more time with our grandkids and we can do some traveling and fishing,” he said.

“I’ve had a very successful career. I started the Belmont County Drug Task Force. I was deputized with the DEA, I was deputized with the ATF out of Pittsburgh, I’ve been with the South Eastern Narcotics Task Force. I’ve been deputized with the U.S. Marshals Mountain Fugitive Task Force.

“It’s been a pleasure working with the Belmont County Land Reutilization, also known as the Belmont County land bank. They’ve been a godsend to Bellaire. I’ve got to help some nice people, and I’ve got to put a lot of bad people in prison back in the day.”

As far as the future goes, Flanagan said he has several job opportunities that are “definitely not in law enforcement and definitely not working with the public.”

In other matters, Marling said he wanted to look into having the speed limit lowered on Union Street from 26th Street south. He said he would like to have it lowered from 25 mph to 10 mph. He said there’s a lot of speeding around the turn where four small children reside in three separate houses.

“They’re cutting that corner, they’re going up over the curb and into the yard down there around that one turn. We can set them right there,” he said.

Flanagan said if the village has the signs, officials can install them along the roadway.

Also, council approved a request from Shania Thorton to utilize the park on June 30 for her group, Send Me Inc.

Council also approved the Bellaire Planning Committee’s use of the park to hold its annual Easter egg hunt from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 1.

Flanagan also reminded residents of the JB Green Team’s cleanup in the village, which is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 25 at the Bellaire Village Garage, 417 E. 37th St.


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