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Police chief: Positions filling up at Natchez Police Department

 

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Police Department has been steadily filling its ranks over the last few months.

Natchez Police Chief, Walter Armstrong introduced 10 of the latest recruits during a meeting with the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen last Tuesday.

Two of the latest recruits, Christopher Morgan and Quayshawn Dennard, are still going through training at the state law enforcement academy in Pearl and are scheduled to graduate in April, Armstrong said.

Jonathan Coulston, Clerence Hall, Padrian Miller, Donnella Shorter and Makenzi Taylor are already certified and on the force, he said, and will soon be joined by three more certified officers, Cedric Davis, Joseph Silas and Gregory Sublett.

Six months ago, Armstrong told the board that his department struggled to retain the officers already on the force, much less hire any new recruits.

The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved raises for Natchez police officers last September — taking their entry-level pay rate from $13 per hour to $15.50. The raise helped the department offer a competitive rate compared to agencies in nearby communities, Armstrong said.Before the increase in pay, the department had 35 officers and 8 vacancies. All but three vacancies are now filled, Armstrong said during last week’s meeting with the Board of Aldermen.

“As you know, we have struggled to fill our ranks for a very long time,” Armstrong said. “We currently have, with the hiring of these last three officers, only three openings on the force.”

With this news, the board of aldermen and audience at Tuesday’s meeting applauded the chief and the new recruits.

“I want to thank you (Armstrong) for doing a great job with recruiting and filling the numbers up to where they need to be in the department,” said Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell. “I would also like to congratulate and thank these officers for choosing Natchez. I truly have the utmost respect for all police officers. You guys truly put yourselves out there, along with our firefighters and first responders. Thank you, and God bless you.”

Armstrong said all of the new officers are going through field training, where they each ride with another officer on the force to learn about city before branching out alone.

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