Belpre PD hires two officers, now at full staffing

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz stands with two new officers of the Belpre Police Department, Patrolman Bill Johnson, left, and Patrolman Gunnar Smith, right, at Monday’s meeting of the Belpre City Council. (PHoto by Wayne Towner)

BELPRE — With the hiring of two new officers, the Belpre Police Department is now at full staffing.

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz welcomed the two new officers, Patrolman Gunnar Smith and Patrolman Bill Johnson, at Monday’s meeting of Belpre City Council.

Lorentz swore in Smith at Monday’s meeting, while Johnson was sworn in at the time of his hiring. Smith is joining the BPD as a new officer after getting his criminal justice degree at Ohio Valley University and Johnson has 10 years of experience in law enforcement, most recently with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Along with hirings in the city’s water and sewer departments, Lorentz said the city is at full staff for the first time in nearly two years, although another sewer department employee will soon be leaving for another job which will then need to be filled.

In other business, council approved the second reading of an ordinance regarding updates to parts of the city’s codified ordinances based on actions by city council in the past year. Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance to update the city’s grass and weed mowing requirements and of a resolution accepting the amounts and rates determined by the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor.

All three measures will be up for further readings at the next council meeting in September.

Lorentz told council he is forwarding a request to the finance committee to seek approval for a police cruiser order in the near future. The make and model cruiser currently used by the department, the Interceptor, will be discontinued next year. Lorentz said the city wants to order one soon to replace a cruiser purchase which was deferred this year for budgetary concerns.

If ordered soon, there will be no downpayment required at this time and a savings of a few thousand dollars would be realized by not waiting until 2019, he said.

The new cruiser, if approved, will not be delivered until February or March 2019, Lorentz said.

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