Belle officials sign police contract, surplus former PD equipment

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 2/5/20

BELLE — Belle officials voted 3-0 on Friday during a special open session meeting to approve the police services contract with Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman, Lt. Scott John, and nine …

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Belle officials sign police contract, surplus former PD equipment

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BELLE — Belle officials voted 3-0 on Friday during a special open session meeting to approve the police services contract with Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman, Lt. Scott John, and nine citizens present at the city board chambers.

“I’ll get the contract signed and sent to Maries County,” Mayor Josh Seaver said.

The contract began on Saturday, Feb. 1.

During the Jan. 14 meeting, Seaver said the city voted to outsource the police services, but did not approve a contract. At that point the city had received a bid but had not negotiated terms. He called a Jan. 20 closed session meeting for the city to review the potential contract with their attorney, Mary Weston, before changing “some verbiage” according to officials. The contract reads, with clarification to who provides equipment and when pay raises should take place.

Seaver asked Aldermen Tony Gieck, Ken Stanfield and Jeanette Struemph, all present, if they had all read the contract.

“It all looks good to me,” said Stanfield.

“I make the motion to accept the contract with the Maries County Sheriff’s Department,” Gieck said.

Stanfield seconded the motion, which passed with a 3-0 vote. Alderman Courtney Abel was absent.

“The only other thing we had for today is what we want to do with the inventory — cars, weapons, looks like there’s some computers, all kinds of stuff,” Seaver told the board.

Gieck said the computers were outdated anyway, so they could be put out for bid. As far as cars, he said he would make a motion to entertain bids or go with the lowest price and get the decals taken off. He added that they should strip the lights and radios off the cars and put them out for bid as well and put everything up for bid at the next board meeting if they could get it done by then.

“All the vehicles?” Struemph asked.

“No,” Gieck said. “Let me rephrase that. Not (Marshal Joe Turnbough’s), not the Ford Explorer. The three cars.”

The board approved 3-0 to move forward with taking the equipment off the cars and surplusing the property.

“As far as handguns, shotguns and that kind of stuff — what do you think we need to do with those?” Seaver asked.

“If we are allowed to sell them, we should put them out for bid also,” Gieck said. “I think we would have to check with somebody about that.”

Heitman his department would provide the officers they hired for Belle with ammunition and weapons.

“On this stuff you’re selling, where is that money going to go? Into the general fund?” Stanfield asked.

“I would like to see it go into a separate account,” Gieck said. “Just in case the contract does not work and that would give us a little bit of money to fall back on to restart the police department, if we need to, in the future. Earmark it, just for that.”

The board agreed.

“Would you like to make a motion stating that is what you want to do?” Seaver asked.

Gieck said yes and Struemph seconded the motion. It passed with a 3-0 vote.

“We probably need to verify what is over before we do anything,” City Clerk Frankie Hicks said.

The board agreed. Stanfield asked about the analog radios that Phelps Health donated to the city a few months ago. Turnbough said in December that they had possession of the radios, but was waiting for them to be deprogrammed. Seaver said they were not on the Belle Police Department’s equipment inventory list.

“Is the new ones he was getting, Chris, compatible with you?” Hicks asked.

Heitman said no.

“The marshal has one of ours that he is welcome to use,” Heitman said. “He does need to get it installed in his vehicle. I know that would be an expense if the city is willing to install that radio in his vehicle. I know the type of radio that we use costs about $5,200 apiece. But that is what the state mandates now. He has one of ours he is welcome to use, but it still belongs to the county.”

Gieck said if they are not going to use the analog radios, he recommends speaking with Phelps Health to see if they want them back or if the city should sell them.

“I will start in Monday going through the rest of this stuff and seeing what we do have,” Seaver said. “If anyone else would like to help, that would be absolutely fantastic.”

Seaver said once the city has a final list of what they have on-hand, they will send the equipment out for bid or donate to another department.

The board voted to adjourn, and the residents in attendance applauded.

Citizens came forward to thank the board. Former city resident and board member Richard Huse and his wife Barb Huse were in attendance, having driven from Jefferson City for the meeting.

“Congratulations,” Richard Huse told the mayor and board. “That took a lot of backbone.”

Heitman and John stayed to answer questions about how the new contract would be implemented. John had already been in Belle for half the day patrolling.

Stanfield asked the sheriff when the city could expect the new cars in town.

“You will have two patrol cars over here tonight, fully equipped,” John said. “Fully equipped.”

Patrolman Brian Brennan received his new uniform and weapon Thursday night and has received a temporary vest.

“The stuff that should fit them well is on order,” John said. “They were given two brand new Glock 17 Gen. 5 9mm last night, brand new out of the box. Weapons, lights attached to them and new holsters and two sheriff’s patrol units here tonight fully equipped with dash cameras, we have already given them body cameras.”

Heitman said the only problem is Turnbough wouldn’t be able to communicate with the county until his radio could be installed.

“He was supposed to have you a quote already,” Heitman said, but board members shook their heads that they had not received one.

The sheriff’s department is providing equipment at the Maries County Belle Substation, which will be located in the front room of the former Belle Police Department (BPD). The front room has been cleared of all the former BPDs police work to either Turnbough’s office or the evidence locker. Turnbough retains jurisdiction of those cases unless he requests the county to take them.

John mentioned that the evidence locker, which should be inventoried once a year, has not been inventoried since 2010, “as best he can tell.” He suggested Turnbough file paperwork on some of the weapons to allow them to be sold on auction if the owners can’t be reached — similar to what the sheriff’s department does each fall.

“They can either be returned to their rightful owner, destroyed if they are illegal or have been modified, or given to the sheriff or the city to auction,” John said. “

The county will file their cases and evidence in a separate holding area. John said since Turnbough will be working from 2 to 10 p.m. at the hospital on Monday through Friday,

“Joe told me there’s only two or three that are being worked and they are not large cases, he said he could finish them out and close them out,” John said. “We offered to take them and he said he’s got them. We don’t even know what they are. I am sure there are going to be some ups and downs the first couple of months while we work things out.”

They don’t plan to use the former PBD vehicle bays.

Brennan took over as Maries County R-2 school resource officer (SRO) on Tuesday, as Deputy Caleb Cooper left for training and plans to be a road deputy. Deputy Tim Edwards will be the SRO next year.

Deputy Jerry Coborn, Heitman, John, Brennan and various Maries County deputies will be scheduled to cover the area. John said they are working to recruit a police academy graduate in May to fill the third full-time position.

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