Natchez Police Department seeks 8 to 10 officers
Published 12:03 am Saturday, January 6, 2018
NATCHEZ — 2018 will be a crucial year for the Natchez Police Department in terms of obtaining and retaining manpower to keep the city safe, Chief Walter Armstrong said Friday.
The department — which is in need of eight to 10 more officers — is currently seeking applicants for probationary officer positions.
Applicants would take the first part of a Civil Service Exam necessary to become an officer on Feb. 2, and applications are due by Jan. 26.
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That would mark only the third Civil Service Exam given since June 2017. The prior tests only resulted in one officer passing and going on to the state police academy.
“We’re doing as much as we possibly can do in order to generate qualified applicants to join the force,” Armstrong said. “(But) we’re looking at about 10 openings, and we’re not getting applicants coming forth.”
Despite advertising through multiple media and encouraging officers to recruit via word-of-mouth, Armstrong said efforts have been mostly unsuccessful to date.
“It’s not so much that applicants are not qualified … they are not even applying,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong plans to attack this problem in a few ways. A short-term plan is to increase the appeal of the departments perks. For example, next week he plans to bring before the Natchez Board of Aldermen the issue of officers’ liberties with their police vehicles.
The chief wants to permit officers who live within city limits to take their vehicles home after work, which is currently not allowed.
Not only would this change benefit officers, Armstrong said, but it would also help deter crime in neighborhoods where the police cars are visible.
He also mentioned the department’s plans to send investigative officers to a specialized training program at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy to help boost NPD’s reputation and make officers more well-equipped to tackle special cases.
He also has plans to equip officers with stun guns in the near future.
But the most pivotal factor in recruitment, he said, continues to be compensation.
Armstrong has repeatedly stated that he is very grateful for a 7-percent raise — the first raise granted specifically for emergency personnel in many years — that NPD and the Natchez Fire Department received last year.
The department still, however, must increase wages to alleviate an issue that Armstrong said is happening to police departments all over the United States.
“We are very appreciative of that 7-percent increase, but we also know, given that we are so far behind, that there is a lot to be done in terms of law enforcement wages across the country.”
The department lists the starting salary for probationary officers as $27,102.40 annually, plus step raises, educational pay and employee benefits.
Even with last year’s raises, Armstrong said, he named departments nearby such as the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and Vidalia Police Department, that offer higher wages to law enforcement officers.
Recruitment is at a pressing time, because even when officers do pass the written, physical and oral phases of the Civil Service exam and make it through the 480 hours of training at the police academy, officers still must go through field training.
“It could be nearly a year before they could go solo,” Armstrong said. “This is a long process.”
Those interested in the job openings at the police department can call 601-442-5962 or email email@example.com.