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Bellevue Police ID Burglary Suspect Through DNA; Changes Announced for Fire Department

For the first time in its history, Bellevue Police have used DNA evidence to identify a suspect in a burglary case.

That burglary took place a year and a half ago.

"This is the first DNA tech case since I've been here," said Police Chief Wayne Turner to the Bellevue City Council last week. He's been on the job for nearly two years. He said it took eighteen months to ID a suspect because the burglary case was not a top priority for the DNA testing lab in Frankfort.

"The good news is, we solved another burglary," the chief said. However, as of late last week, no suspect had been taken into custody, but was simply identified.

The DNA was obtained from blood the suspect left behind after cutting himself on broken glass.

Turner said he understands that it can be frustrating for a crime victim to hear from police about how long such investigations can take but was hopeful that justice would soon be served.

Changes coming to Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department policies

Bellevue's city council unanimously approved some changes to the fire department it shares with Dayton. City Councilman Matt Olliges, who represents the council on the fire board that oversees the department's LLC under which it operates, explained the changes.

"Basically, a lot of it is clearing up some items that haven't been clear or have been open to interpretation over the past couple years," Olliges said. "We feel like we're in a good spot and have a good working relationship with (Dayton) and we want to get these changes made."

Pending approval from Dayton City Council as well, the fire chief will now answer directly to the board. Olliges said that issue had been open to interpretation. The fire board shall also create and approve all policies.

The fire chief will assist in the preparation of an annual budget with a third party financial manager to present that budget to city administrators each month.
 
"The fire chief has always been involved with the budget and he will still be involved in the budget process but what we're doing here is taking some of the daily minutiae out of (Chief Michael Auteri)'s hands so he can concentrate on running the fire department and letting (fire department board treasurer) Bernie Pfeffer do the actual number-crunching and reporting," Olliges said.
 
Additionally, the fire chief shall now have the authority to discipline employees without approval of the board chair. In the past, the chief needed approval from each city's administrator in advance of any disciplinary action, as well as approval from the personnel committees in both cities. "We think we've got a good manager in (Auteri) and he makes good decisions and he's not going to take his authority and abuse it," Olliges said.
 
The fire chief's annual evaluation shall be conducted by the fire department board chair and the personnel committees. Preciously city administrators in each city evaluated the chief. Olliges said since Auteri works for the LLC and neither city, the board determined it was more appropriate to review the chief internally.
 
Other notes:
  • Mayor Ed Riehl led the city council in a moment of silence at the top of the meeting in honor of former State Representative Jim Callahan who died in late November. "He was a gentleman that could reach across party lines," the mayor said. "You don't see that happen with today's legislators in Frankfort and Washington. "He will be sadly missed but he has left an impression on this community and Northern Kentucky and the state of Kentucky, on this body and on many that sat here before and sit here today."
  • Fire Chief Auteri reported that the department winterized the fire hydrants throughout the city and found three "leakers". Those were fixed by the water company. He added that the department is working on its annual effort to adopt ten families for the holidays. Food and toys will be delivered soon. "It's always a good time," Auteri said.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Bellevue City Council poses for a photo at the end of last week's meeting/RCN