The test of a good man is to be found when he is under fire, his back to the wall, a tough problem to be solved.
Rudy Davis, Belleair Beach's mayor, finds himself on a hot griddle with a pesky problem.
But he has a very innovative idea, that we will get to in a nonce.
He wants folks in his city to be able to call a cop - one of their own - should the need arise.
You see, the Belleair Beach Police Department is in disarray. Their numbers grow fewer and fewer. The Sheriff's Office is beckoning with offers of jobs.
Davis feels that the idea from PCSO headquarters on Ulmerton Road is to so eviscerate his city's police department that there will be no other choice except to contract with the sheriff for police services.
Belleair is also a target for the sheriff. Belleair Shore, now being policed by Belleair Beach, almost certainly will go with the sheriff the next time around.
From Sheriff Jim Coats's viewpoint, one supposes, nothing would be more economical, efficient and make sense than to have the swath of territory from Indian Rocks Beach, through Belleair Shore and Belleair Beach, up into Belleair Bluffs and Belleair all under his direct policing jurisdiction.
Indian Rocks Beach and Belleair Shore (both of which had sad experiences with their own police departments) are now policed by the sheriff and their cries of happiness over same are raised daily to heaven.
But jumping into the sheriff's jurisdiction in Belleair Beach has one big wrinkle - the voters there must approve abolishing the police department. Previous votes have said no.
But let's look at the idea Davis has to solve the police personnel problem.
His plan would make Belleair Beach entry level police duty for young officers just out of the police academy and perhaps short of the experience required by larger city departments.
There is very little crime in Belleair Beach. The city is totally residential. Pressure on police officers is minimal - in short, it would be great training ground for young officers to get their feet on the ground, Davis says.
Once this plan was coordinated between police schools, the military (lots of new officers come from the Army) and the bigger cities where officer requirements highlight experience, there could be a steady flow of officers, as Davis sees it.
He points out that there are grants for such a plan that would include field training officers stationed in Belleair Beach.
And to season the mix - adding in some experience in Belleair Beach with an officer or two who would stay in the city - Davis envisions advertising in northern papers to get the officer who is retiring in a northern city but still has enough vim and vigor to take a full time job in quiet and pastoral Belleair Beach.
Davis has consulted with Karen Seel, a county commissioner who can be said to work her job with unceasing application, and she likes the idea. She is the type who could put some gas in the tank of Davis's plan.
In the meantime, Davis says, there has been an overwhelming response of applicants for police chief to fill the vacancy created by Ernie Armistead's departure.
One can see why. A veteran officer, perhaps a ranking officer, on a large city force retires and the fun, sun, sand and lifestyle of paradise is a huge enticement.
Such a man or woman contemplating life here would see the job as a sinecure.
And that's not a bad word.
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