The increase in police pay is doing good things for the Meridian Police Department.
“I think it has increased the visibility of patrol cars on the street and we want to maintain that,” said Police Chief Benn Dubose.
In September 2016, city council voted to increase the starting pay of police officers from $11 per hour to $15 per hour.
“We have recruited 37 officers. Thirty-one were lateral transfers, meaning that they had experience working in other departments. Also, 16 were raw recruits who had to go through the academy,” said Dubose.
The police department now has 100 sworn officers, just short of 10 officers needed to have a full force.
Dubose attributes the police pay increase to the support of residents. At one time, the police force was down to 75 officers, making it challenging for the officers to do their job. That’s why Detective
Thomas Abate, one of the recruits, decided to come on board.
“I’m from Alabama. A good friend of mine works for the meridian police department. We were talking back and forth and realized there was a pretty good shortage of detectives in Meridian.”
Dubose said having more officers means better response times, increased patrolling, and concentrated efforts in problem areas.
“This increase in manpower is going to allow us to increase our investigative personnel. We do have a pretty good record of catching people after the fact, but we want to be more in the business of preventing crime.”
Dubose added that the police department should have a fully staffed police force by March.