THIS IS 2020

Hello Bellevue,

It has been a couple of months since I took to the keyboard for a community message and trying to pick an appropriate title this one seems about all that I can say! This is my 24th year policing the Bellevue community and without question the most tasking, as I am sure it can be said for most of you as well. 

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had discussions with Borough officials and community members regarding many of the hot button topics from policing to race and current events.  The topic regarding racism in all honesty and luckily has not had a major impact on the community or within the police department.  That does not mean it does not exist or that we ignore it. 

We hope that our black neighbors and visitors choose to live and do business in Bellevue for the important reason for feeling safe and secure.  As a police agency, we take matters seriously from the borders with Pittsburgh to Avalon and Ross to the Ohio River.  If you are within this square mile you, your children, and property matter to us.  

There is a message being spread that should not have any argument and that is “hate has no place here.”  After letting that one sink in, I believe it should be added to the Bellevue motto of “Live, Worship, Shop.”  Maybe it should read, “Bellevue Borough a community where hate has no place….Live, Worship, Shop.” 

Regarding the relationship between the police and community, Bellevue PD has a long history of being connected and known personally by the residents and business owners. I will not let turmoil and national unrest drive a wedge between the police and the community.  The term “Neighbor” needs to have more meaning today more than ever.  Working together and looking out for one another is key to a successful community.  This coincides with the concept of Neighborhood Watch and we will build upon this concept. 

Years ago, we had structured neighborhood beat patrols and we will bring those back permanently.  Our goal is to engage with everyone in the community, whether it be to gage where crime is being committed or simply to talk about the weather forecast, it is important to have those face to face discussions.  (Disclaimer…we look forward to the day we can shake hands once again and not ask you to speak up from behind a mask.  Hopefully, this occurs sooner than later.)

Some have asked how the Bellevue PD is addressing bias and transparency.  Over the past few years, officers have received both annual and elective training on relevant topics regarding bias and accountability.  We are also changing the method of how we report and track incidents to gather details and determine if bias or hate has played a part in any crime committed. We are also seeking funding to implement a body-worn camera program, to include recommended policy for the use of this device. 

To conclude Bellevue Borough is a one square mile town, with slightly over 8000 residents and a small fulltime police department.  We are not naive to believe everything will be perfect and hate can be completely ridden from our community.  However, we have a concentrated area to work with and I believe we can keep a hold of the Bellevue tradition and ride the 2020 wave and any future matters we are confronted with.

Sincerely,

Chief Sentner