It will take money to reduce crime

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, October 11, 2007

Meetings are the first step to the solution of a problem, but it’s what happens after a meeting that matters most.

Every few years Natchez aldermen begin asking questions, pointing fingers and demanding solutions to our city’s crime problem.

The alarm bells sounded earlier this week at an aldermen meeting, when city leaders asked the police chief to increase patrols and create a new substation — propositions that aren’t feasible within the department’s budget.

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So, the board decided to have a meeting with the chief, other city leaders and community members to develop a long-term plan to deal with a long-term problem.

That’s good. Our leaders do need to consider the bigger picture, brainstorm ideas and address growing problems.

But if the aldermen are ready to sit down at the table, they’d better be ready to open the city’s checkbook and put our money where their mouths are.

The starting salary for a city police officer is approximately $5,000 less than that of a deputy at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

The Natchez Police Department routinely hires officers, trains them and puts them to work only to quickly lose them to the ACSO, or another agency.

The salaries aren’t high enough to promote any kind of retention.

As a result, the department is frequently short-staffed and officers on the beat are young, new and not necessarily a part of the community.

For months now the city has talked about an expected influx in tax dollars as businesses continue to locate here. If aldermen want to see less crime, they need to funnel new funds to our city’s public servants.

The laws are in place. The money isn’t.