COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – A bill is being discussed in the Senate that could help agencies keep officers after they’ve completed the police academy.
It’s called Senate Bill 2037.
The bill requires an officer to stay with their respective department for two years after they’ve finished up at the police academy.
“When you put that much training into an officer, you want a return on your investment,” said Chief Fred Shelton, Columbus Police Department. “It’s a good investment to send an officer to the academy and get him to come back, but it’s a better investment if that officer stays in that community and he grows.”
If an officer decides to leave before those two years are up, the new agency the officer is going to would then have to reimburse the department they just left.
The new employer would be required to repay that department for the officer’s training expenses.
“Overall it takes about $10,000 that we put into an officer, $3,600 for the academy, his salary, travel costs,” Shelton explained. “We’re not just losing an officer, we’re losing finances, so this at least can recoup this money back that we put into this officer and invest in trying to get some more officers.”
Officers joining an agency and then quickly leaving is something Chief Shelton is no stranger to seeing.
He admits, when that happens, it creates several challenges for the department.
“It’s a financial burden and it’s a manpower burden as well,” said Shelton. “I want to keep badges and guns on the street and to make our citizens safe.”
If the bill passes, the new employer that the officer transfers to would also have two years to pay off their debt, which is something some departments have been neglecting to do.
“It’s sad to say but there are some cases where agencies haven’t paid us back yet,” the police chief expressed.
That’s why Shelton is hoping the bill will get passed and help turn things around.
He believes Senate Bill 2037 will help retain officers and prevent other agencies from trying to dip into another department’s staff.
“We’re a mid-sized agency, but if you look at a smaller community that has five or six officers, that’s tough on them,” Shelton described. “For our agency it’s tough on us, but again, we’re working to improve and make it better and this law is going to help support me in doing that.”
If it’s passed, it’ll go into effect July first.