Columbus Police Department steps up recruitment efforts

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – “When you have a person that can go to Walmart and make more money than a police officer, that’s a problem,” said Columbus Police Chief Joseph Daughtry.

Personnel shortages plague law enforcement across the country.

Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin said he recognized the connection between low salaries and low recruitment numbers.

“What we’re doing in the city to try to improve recruitment is increase salaries. We’ve done that in the last two years. We’re also trying to get to a point where we can hire experienced law enforcement people to our department at the same pay level or higher from where they’re coming in from,” said Gaskin.

Daughtry knows his department isn’t what it once was, but he’s implementing changes to get it where it needs to be.

“You have to remember: this department at one time had almost ninety police officers in this city. 90. And prior to me getting here they got down to 27, and now we’re up to 40,” said Daughtry.

Daughtry said financial burdens on top of the everyday stress of keeping a community safe, don’t do an officer any favors.

He believed any person who lays their life on the line should be properly compensated.

“We have officers get into foot chases and scuffles trying to arrest subjects. We have officers that have to be counselors. But the most important thing is the majority of the time, every officer that comes to work- not only for the Columbus police department but when you leave home and kiss your family, you don’t know if you’re coming back home,” said Daughtry.

Now, the department has a new pay scale.

Starting salary for new hires with no prior experience is now $40,000 a year.

The pay increases with experience and certifications.

“And that pay scale allowed us the opportunity to not only give our officers a significant raise, but it also allows us the opportunity to hire certified officers at a pay up to what a six-year officer would make,” said Daughtry.

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