COPS approval

Bellevue Council voted Tuesday to accept the grant that will put another police officer on borough streets for three years, but not without questions over why information on fourth-year funding was not provided.

Bellevue was awarded a $297,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) program, which requires that the officer hired be retained at borough expense for 12 months after the grant funding ends. At an earlier meeting, officials had asked that Police Chief Matt Sentner outline how the borough would get the money to pay for that fourth year.

Three council members voted against accepting the grant at this time because Sentner had not produced anything in writing that projected future cost cuts or revenue increases.

“We need to be fiscally responsible about this,” said council member Susan Viscusi, who said that she wanted to vote in favor of accepting the grant but could not without addressing the financial obligation the borough is taking on.

She and council members Jane Braunlich and Linda Woshner asked that the vote be delayed until the information is produced. Bellevue has 90 days from mid-September to accept the grant.

Other council members, however, debated the need for the information, and voted to move ahead with the grant approval at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council member Jim Viscusi said that it was not always possible to have a plan. “You have the idea, you go for it, you make it work,” he said.

His wife, however, was puzzled about the need for immediate action.

“I really can’t understand why we can’t get the information we’re asking for,” said Susan Viscusi. “I don’t like this at all.”

“I was willing to vote for this grant. I want to see another officer on the street,” said Woshner. “I think it’s appalling that we can’t get information.”

Council member Mark Helbling made a motion to have the chief prepare a written document regarding possible ways of funding the new officer’s salary in the fourth year, and that motion was seconded by Woshner. At the request of Mayor George Doscher, the motion was rescinded and he instructed Sentner to compile the information.


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