Moss Point Police Department makes strides in hiring officers after staffing crisis
MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - “Crisis averted:” That’s the message out of Moss Point as the city’s police chief said they now have the manpower needed to adequately patrol the city.
“It’s dangerous community,” Chief Brandon Ashley said in the summer. “We’re working to try to resolve that and rid that and reduce some of the crime, but I need resources.”
Chief Ashley shared that disconcerting news in June, admitting there were not enough cops on the force to adequately patrol the city.
In July 2022, 41% of the police force was missing.
Fast forward to three days into the new year, there’s good news for the department and River City residents.
“We are rebuilding our ranks and we are getting more people and we will continue to do that,” Ashley said.
“We’ve got the salary where it’s competitive, and people are applying for these jobs,” Mayor Billy Knight said.
In the summer, Moss Point was advertising their continued push to fill a dozen vacancies within the department as the city only had 17 officers on the payroll. The department is budgeted for 29.
“We were so low at one time that I was working patrol shifts, but now I’m back in the office,” Ashley said.
It’s thanks to new recruits like two officers honored Tuesday night, who are helping to fill gaps. The Moss Point Board of Aldermen acknowledged the recent hires and praised their efforts during their meeting.
Two dozen positions have now been filled, and only five vacancies remain.
As more hires are made, attention can be focused on new crime-fighting initiatives in the city.
“I want them to focus on community policing, getting to know their community, get out of those cars and say hello to the people,” Knight said. “It’s all about building relationships and that’s what I want them to do.”
“Now, I can do more of the community policing and stuff like that since I’m back in the office and not working a patrol shift,” Ashley said. “That’s what our main focus is on. We want the citizens involved. We want them to know that we are there for them, and they should be there for us.”
For anyone wanting to fill those five budgeted positions, there will be a physical training test on Jan. 14 at 8 a.m.
Starting pay for inexperienced officers is $17.29/hour, with a $2.00 pay raise after graduating from the police academy.
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