Shortage of officers needs attention by leaders

Published 12:09 am Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Help wanted: Men and women who are smart, can handle difficult situations and read people under duress. The ideal applicant will have a completely clean background, good common sense and be physically strong and capable of working in a team environment. Nights and weekend work is a must, as is risking bodily harm on a daily, perhaps even hourly, basis. Pay is low, but rewards can be great, provided you survive.

The want ad would not be overly enticing to many, but it is pretty much exactly what the Natchez Police Department faces as it tries to recruit new police officers.

Last week, Police Chief Walter Armstrong reminded city aldermen of what he’s facing in recruiting.

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The department is currently 10 officers down from what it needs and has traditionally staffed.

Two long-time officers are preparing to retire next year, meaning the need is going to become more challenging.

Only one candidate is currently at the police academy, meaning the pipeline of recruits is thin.

Armstrong continues to say pay is an issue since many other area law enforcement entities can offer police recruits better pay, along with perks such as taking their patrol cars home, something Natchez Police currently do not allow.

We continue to applaud Armstrong for ringing the alarm bell. Whether or not aldermen can heed that bell and respond quickly enough remains to be seen.

We continue to urge the city to consider how it might merge the police into the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Having a single source for law enforcement needs makes all the sense in the world and continue to operating an understaffed police department is not only not wise, it’s not safe either.