During the most recent meeting of the Indianola Board of Aldermen, Police Chief Edrick Hall made a plea to the city fathers for better pay for his officers so he can hire more personnel and better maintain a fully-staffed workforce. “We’re short,” Hall said.
He maintained that his department is losing too many certified officers to neighboring law enforcement agencies because other towns are paying better than the City of Indianola.
Hall explained, “Over the past two and a half (to) three months we’ve lost seven officers. I’ve got four guys that went to Washington County’s Sheriff’s Department making right at $40,000 a year, I’ve got two went to Ruleville Police Department making $14.25 an hour, I’ve got one went to Yazoo City making $15 an hour.”
Hall further explained, “My guys stayed here as long as they could. Their morale is low because of their pay. Even the ones that’s leaving are asking can they stay to work part-time.”
Hall reasoned that since the departing officers are asking to still work for the city part-time that they are satisfied with the work environment. “But they’re not getting what’s paid in the rest of the Delta area,” he said.
The chief’s statements were sparked by Alderman Gary Fratesi’s suggestion that Hall starts conducting weekly radar speed-checks and roadblocks at random locations across the city.
Hall stated that right now his individual shifts are only 40 percent staffed. “I can’t focus time on trying to set up roadblocks. The manpower I use for bringing people in to do that is trying to answer calls for the citizens,” Hall said.
The chief said that if he had the time and resources he would not have a problem responding to the roadblock suggestion. He asserted that he is using his budgeted resources in the most efficient manner by making sure the shifts are covered. “I don’t have time to focus on roadblocks right now,” Hall said.
Mayor Steve Rosenthal then asked Hall if the road blocks could be accomplished if he were properly staffed. Hall said, “Absolutely, we use to do it all of the time.” Rosenthal also asked about other methods that could be employed to better market and promote the department.
Using one of the latest academy graduates as an example, Hall explained that three other police chiefs are already actively trying to recruit that officer. “While they are in the academy, they’re going over there talking to them, we don’t pay the money,” Hall emphasized.
Alderman Ruben Woods asked about using the portable radar devices, but Hall explained they only work temporarily. “After that you’ll have people trying to post themselves on Facebook and Instagram showing how fast they’re going down the road,” he said.
Hall also responded to Woods’ suggestion of possibly using a handheld radar device or pointing the in-car devices out of the windows. Hall told him that is usually done with a two-man team, one to use the radar and one to stop the individual, but asserted that would deplete the shift’s manpower.
Alderman Darrell Simpson asked about the stipulation that the officers must work for the city for a pre-determined period after completing the police academy at the city’s expense.
He stressed that the hiring city must reimburse Indianola for the cadet’s training costs and Hall replied, “Three years, they’ll turn around and give us the $3,800 we paid for the academy, but what I’m trying to get us to understand is that it costs me about a grand to get an officer outfitted, so instead of spending the money bringing in a new officer, give that money to the guys to make them stay,” he said.
Fratesi then asked Hall to compile a spreadsheet showing how much towns within a 30-mile radius are paying and Hall said, “Already working on it, almost done.” Hall also stressed that he is continually advertising for new officers, but reemphasized that the pay is the drawback.