BETHESDA — After an executive session and extensive discussion Dec. 17, Bethesda Village Council made a motion to appoint Pete Busack to chief for a six month probationary period.
Councilmember Jay Van Horn was the lone vote against Busack.
Mayor Marty Lucas stated that he would like to see Busack after the meeting to discuss the terms of his probation.
Mayor Lucas introduced Sally and Fred Janoski, who served on council for 16 years. Scott Blake stated that he was also on council along with Bob Porter. Mayor Lucas stated that there were two letters of interest for the empty council seat. Mayor Lucas stated that Rod Miller and Chuck Little submitted letters of interest. Jordan Castello stated that Little has shown his dedication to the town and that he put in a petition to be elected but the petition was rejected. Castello made a motion to appoint Chuck Little, no one seconded it. Cindy Foose made a motion to appoint Rod Miller to the vacant seat, seconded by Ruth Saffell. Motion passed. Mayor Lucas congratulated Rod Miller. Theresa Thornberry asked if we can still have mayor’s court since we won’t have anyone trained. Rick Burkhead stated that the training is Jan. 9.
Dan Lucas asked about the six month probation and if the mayor would appoint him to the permanent position after that. Lucas asked what happened to the reasons that council did not want to put Busack in as chief did they just go away. Ruth Saffell stated that it was discussed a lot and this is what they decided. Lucas asked if any information they had has changed. Saffell stated that the information has not changed. Busack stated that he doesn’t know what the information is. Castello stated that they will be going over the terms of the probation with him. Theresa Thornberry asked if in six months the same thing could happen that happened this time. Jeff Menoski stated that yes.
Rachael Smith asked why council doesn’t listen when people speak. She said things happen and we need to have a chief. Smith stated that everyone wants to know why council didn’t want to put Busack in the chief. Smith asked what happens in six months when council decides again that they don’t want Busack. Cindy Foose stated that after six months the position can be permanent but we are not making that decision right now. Sally Janoski stated that people came here tonight and then council went off in a meeting for 40 minutes. Cindy Foose stated that we had to have the executive session first to discuss things that pertain to all of this. Mayor Lucas stated that we had to discuss things that are not the exact same as the issue with the chief’s position.
Allen Stonebreaker asked when Busak is going to start doing his job. Allen stated that there is constant speeding. Busak stated that he spent 15 minutes on three separate occasions and 28 mph was the maximum recorded on 42 cars. Little told Stonebreaker that this meeting isn’t about speeding in town. Chuck Little stated that he even set down there and only seen one truck speeding. Allen stated that he doesn’t support Busak being the police chief.
Curtis Hallstrom stated that there are pretty strong opinions on both sides of this debate. He asked if the terms of the probation would be open to the public. Menoski stated that they would consider it and that for right now they are not open to the public.
Fred Janoski stated that Busak was demoted for a reason and now he is being put back in as chief which doesn’t make sense to me. Janoski stated that either there wasn’t sufficient grounds or if there was, then council shouldn’t be putting him back in. Dan Lucas stated that same thing. Mindy Blake asked why council wanted rid of him and no one is giving them an answer.
Castello stated that at the last meeting she did a lot of talking. Castello stated that there is an issue going on that we are not allowed to speak of. Castello stated that it is however a public record so people can always request it to become enlightened. Jordan stated that council just is not permitted to discuss it. Castello stated that in six months we should have some sort of outcome to this issue and we may be able to move forward in a better fashion. Dan Lucas stated that it doesn’t matter to him what the issue is but asked if Pete is aware of the issue. Busak stated that the issue Castello is referring to, he is very familiar with. Jordan asked Pete if he agrees that at this time that the current position of council is fair. Busak stated that Jordan is correct. Jordan stated that this issue is a major issue for everyone on council. Castello commended Busak for stick around during all of this.
Ron Lucas stated Busak is fairly personal. Ron stated that if he does a good job and there is nothing on him, he should be chief. Cindy stated that this reason is why there is six month probation.
Curtis Hallstrom asked council if part of their hesitation of hiring a chief is due to the issues with the last chief. Mayor Lucas agreed that this could be part of it but he doesn’t speak for council. Hallstrom asked if during the probationary period if Busak would be Chief. Council stated that yes he would be. Hallstrom stated that Busak’s gun is older than he is and that we need to look at updating our weapons. Hallstrom stated that he hopes to eventually be able to provide free demos to the local police department. Burkhead stated that we purchase new pistols in 2014 and stated that he didn’t think the guns were old at that time. Busak stated that seven fire arms are there and they look nearly new. Hallstrom stated that he has not looked at those guns.
Cindy Foose apologized to the audience for not being able to reveal to the public the confidential reasons for all of this but stated that she hopes there is a good result from it and that she hopes we can start over and see how the next six months turn out.
Mike McCormick asked if there will be certain benchmarks that Busak will be aware of for his probationary period. Council stated that yes we do.
Jay Van Horn stated that based on what is going on he cannot vote for Busak. He stated that he is willing to start over and see where this all goes. Van Horn stated that Busak has six months to prove himself. Van Horn stated that he hopes that we have a good outcome with the things that we can’t speak of. Cindy Foose stated that council wants to take this next six months and start fresh and that we would like to have the outcome we hope for with the issue going on. Foose stated that she understands the frustration of the residents of council not being able to tell them why.
Administrator Dirk Davis asked the audience if they would be in favor of a new police levy for more man hours. The current levy brings in $33,500 which isn’t very much at all. Dan Lucas asked if we had 13 officers. Burkhead stated that we never had 13 active officers. We only had 5-6 officers who actively worked. Davis stated that we got $100,000 from Union Local contract which we no longer have. Dirk stated that we had 20 hours per month at Morristown and 20 hours per week from Belmont which brought money in. Right now we don’t have that income and we only have Morristown and the levy. Davis stated that the town wants a police chief and a police department we need to have the money to run it. Lucas stated that having public issues like this doesn’t help the cause either. Hallstrom asked if there is transparency on new levies. Burkhead stated that levy language is well stated and can be put to very specific needs and uses.
Samantha Burkhead stated that she ran on transparency and that everything will be available to the public. Burkhead stated that during her term as mayor her goal is to show the residents what the police department does and what they can do for the community. She stated that she wants to help show the residents that the police department works for the residents at this town.
Rod Miller asked we can hire another officer. Miller asked if the department can be self sufficient on ticket revenue. Mayor Lucas stated that you can’t rely on ticket revenue as a constant dedicated income.