Natchez Police Department vacancies serious issue

Published 12:32 am Sunday, January 7, 2018

The City of Natchez’s lack of police recruits is presenting a serious problem, one that city leaders need to address quickly.

Currently, the Natchez Police Department is looking for eight to 10 new police recruits to fill vacancies on the force.

Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong says the problem is no one is applying for the jobs. A large factor, the chief says, is the city’s lower pay scale in relation to other, nearby law enforcement agencies.

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The recruiting problem has been going on for quite a while. Over the last six months only one applicant passed the civil service exam and continued on to the state police academy to become a certified law enforcement officer for the city.

Police chiefs in the city have complained to city administrations for many years about the pay scale discrepancies. In the past, the primary complaint was that the Natchez Police Department lost young officers to nearby agencies that paid more.

Now it seems those agencies may be luring away those recruits before they ever apply to the Natchez Police Department.

As more and more NPD officers retire after many years of service, the agency is struggling to find quality replacements for those departing veterans.

City leaders must find a way to offer more compensation to officers, even if it means cutting other city services to do so.

If city leaders do not resolve this quickly, the Natchez Police Department may soon reach dangerously low staffing levels, and the quality of crime fighting and prevention would diminish.