City Manager Freddy Drennan lays out issues to be addressed in police department
Picayune City Manager Freddy Drennan provided an assessment of on the current condition of the facilities and the needs for the personnel of the Picayune Police Department during an extended interview on WRJW radio on Tuesday morning.
Drennan, who has served as the Chief of Police for the department prior to being named City Manager, said the pay scale for the police officers is the lowest in all of the surrounding police departments of cities near the same size of Picayune. The current starting hourly rate for Picayune is $14.65 compared to Bay St Louis at $17.00 per hour, Moss Point at $$17.29, and Petal at $17.71 per hour. The list provided by Drennan showed that the Pearl River County School District and the Picayune School District officers are the highest paid at $18.32 and $18.04 per hour respectively. The average hourly pay rate of the sixteen departments on the list is $16.98, which is $2.33 per hour more than Picayune currently pays its officers. Drennan is recommending a starting hourly pay rate of $17.00.
All data sheets provided by City Manager Freddy Drennan
“We can’t expect officers to work here at Picayune when they have a chance to do better for themselves to provide for their families at other departments across the region that pay substantially more,” Drennan said.
According to Drennan, Picayune is losing officers that Picayune is investing in only to have them leave shortly after their training program is completed. They are going to other departments with higher hourly pay rates.
Drennan pointed out that it takes an investment of $28,441.30 to train and equip an officer from the time they are hired to becoming an officer capable of going out on patrol for the department.
Drennan also addressed a failing fleet of vehicle that are “junk”. “
We are throwing good money at a bad thing,” he said referring to the maintenance costs associated with the upkeep of the department’s cars. From October 2020 through August 2021, the department spent $32,824.45 on vehicle maintenance.
“We need reliable vehicles and right now we don’t have that,” Drennan stated.
Picayune City Manager Freddy Drennan and Mayor Jim Luke are “begging the citizens of Picayune to come see how bad it is” referring to the Picayune Police Department Criminal Justice Center that serves as office space for the department.
Drennan had his concerns confirmed on an audit from architectural firm Machado - Patano, which pointed to many severe problem areas and issues with the police department headquarters.
Drennan stated the HVAC (heating/cooling) system is not up to code, the roof leaks, and sewer odors are emitting throughout the facility that has forced the use of fragrance candles. There’s mold and mildew, windows and coverings that are barely attached, and water system leaks that are in some cases spraying on electrical systems.
“It’s a deplorable situation that we have to fix,” he said. “Would you want your family members to work in this environment? I think not.”
Drennan and Luke are proposing a tax millage increase to the city council to cover the cost of pay increase for the police department to make the pay competitive with other similar departments, a new facility for the police department, and a new fleet of automobiles.
Drennan said that based on the numbers he received from Pearl River County Tax Assessor Gary Beech, the average home assessed value is $65,000. Drennan said the impact to the average homeowner will be approximately $66.30 per year or $5.53 per month. Homeowners over 65 years of age are exempt and would not pay anything ($0).
Drennan and Luke will ask the council to approve a millage increase at the next meeting which is set for September 7th .