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Council discusses costs of hiring police officers as part of department updates

The Picayune City Council received department updates during Tuesday’s meeting.

Department of Public Works Director Eric Morris said his crews have continued to make progress in spite of a shortage of workers due to staffing and those dealing with COVID related issues. Morris said his department has been working with a staff that was operating at approximately 4.5 people from a full staff. Morris said he had performed interviews earlier during the day and hopes to hire three of the people interviewed.

Morris told the council his workers would be pouring concrete slabs over the next week in Crosby Commons Park for the three memory benches that were to be donated later in the meeting’s agenda. Those benches were purchased by Ms. Sandra Barker, Dr. D.L. Bolton, and Ms. Lorretta Ford. Morris said his department has completed its work in preparation for asphalt paving to be performed during the week of August 8th on Warren Street in preparation for an incoming business. Morris stated that he expects the final work to be done on the city-wide water infrastructure rehab project within in the next two weeks and the final punch list should be completed by the end of August. Work on Monica Lane water system will begin within the next week according to Morris.

Assistant Police Chief James Bolton said the department responded to 1,464 incidents during the month of July while making 24 misdemeanor arrests and 6 felony arrests. Bolton said that number of incidents is about an average month.

Bolton said the investigators had made headway on the identity of the person who robbed the north branch of First National Bank of Picayune on July 19th. He said he did not want to give any more information at this time.

Councilman Larry Breland asked if the city could impose a clause that would require some form of reimbursement from police officers that were hired by the city, received training, and then left the city for another agency for a higher pay rate?

City Manager Freddy Drennan said he viewed that as a deterrent in hiring because most law enforcement officers, in his experience as a police chief, would not sign that type of agreement. Drennan said in his conversation with other agencies, everyone is in the same situation (trying to hire personnel).

Councilperson Anna Turnage asked what the average cost is to the city to hire and train an officer?

Bolton explained that cost from the time an officer is hired until the officer is ready to be assigned to work alone is approximately $28,000 to $30,000. Bolton said the academy program alone is a cost of $4,500. He said the costs of training, expenses related to attending the academy, equipment for an officer, and ride along time with another officer.

Drennan said they will detail the costs during upcoming budget meetings with the council.



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