BELLEAIR BEACH - The severe disruption of the Police Department is expected to take on more definition Monday when City Manager Reid Silverboard reports to the City Council at its meeting.
By that time, Silverboard will have met with Chief Ernie Armistead who already says he has lined up another job with the Sheriff's Office.
Armistead has said he has been offered a job in emergency management with the Sheriff.
Silveboard's meeting with Armistead had the goal of seeing what it would take to keep him at his post in Belleair Beach, Mayor Rudy Davis said.
As to the other members of the department, Davis said that by the August 21 meeting of the council the negotiations between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police which bargains for pay and benefits for the police will either have resulted in an agreement or be at an impasse.
Davis described the hubbub over the police situation as "overreaction."
Some of the officers have threatened to quit. A letter signed by six of the officers indicated they wanted to, in a body, join the Sheriff's Office.
Davis is pragmatic about the status of the officers. "We can't tell them what to do," he says.
He points out that the Sheriff's Office does pay more, but on the other hand, in a city like Belleair Beach with no commercial district, limited vehicle traffic and low crime incidents police officers don't have the strenuous activity that officers in other jurisdictions do.
"That is why many of them are here," he says. "They are not chasing bad guys down back alleys."
Davis also points out that Belleair Beach police officers have gotten yearly cost of living increases and merit raises so that relative in any year in the past they are at the same level of pay.
At the council's meeting August 7 there was a great outcry from officers and at least in one case the spouse of an officer. Her remarks went a little overboard calling the city manager "a yo-yo," and that he should go because the city can't afford him.
There was a lot of blame cast at the council. As one observer said, "it was a good thing there were no ripe tomatoes or pitch forks handy."
Davis said as far as he knew council members were not in favor of getting rid of the police department.
With all the noise and upset it appeared more like the members of the department were inclined to get rid of the city.
By law, there has to be a referendum vote on eliminating the police department and that is not remotely in the works.
If any officers do leave, Davis indicated they will be replaced.
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