Aldermen discuss hiring former military personnel as police officers

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

Poplarville’s Board of Aldermen discussed the possibility of changing their policy to allow the hiring of non-certified police officers.

Carley Davis, an officer serving with the Mississippi National Guard, spoke to the Board about the possibility of hiring ex-military personnel as police officers.

He said that while their military training may not provide everything they need to know about being a police officer, that training does give them a leg up since a lot of it overlaps. Davis offered to look over an application from someone who used to serve in the military for cues that would indicate whether the person would make a good officer.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mayor Rossie Creel said that the current policy requires any officer employed by the city of Poplarville to have successfully completed the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy within a year of being hired.

During discussion of the matter, Collette Oldmixon, the Board’s former attorney, addressed concerns as a member of the public about hiring people who may suffer from PTSD. Alderwoman Anne Smith also expressed concerns of hiring people dealing with PTSD, and also the state law that says a non-certified officer has up to two years to attend and pass the academy. Davis added that individual agencies have the discretion to adjust that timeframe how they see fit.

Davis said that not everyone who leaves military service deals with PTSD, and there are some who overcome it, but he does admit there is a small percentage that leave service who are not “squared away.” However, that’s not the case for the majority of military men and women.

“Right now I got some of the most squared away people in the country that can’t find a job,” Davis said.

He added that he was only advocating for the Board to allow former military personnel to apply.

“You are missing out on quality applicants,” Davis said.

By the end of the discussion, a motion was approved to take the matter of hiring non-certified personnel under advisement.

In other business, the Board also discussed the need for an interlocal agreement with the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors to pave Sonny Davis Road since half of the road is outside the municipal limits. Jason Lamb, an engineer with The Walker Associates, said the Board needs to express a sense of urgency with the Supervisors to ensure the agreement is finalized by the May 7 meeting. No action was taken on the matter.

Work to build a new public works facility is nearing an end. Lamb said that moving to phase three is the finalization of a three year journey to improve drainage at the site, the facility itself and move operations into the new building.

In the final phase, the old building will need to be torn down and a new driveway constructed out the north side of the property for better access. Test pits of the area where the driveway is proposed determined the area is comprised of soft soil. Bids were accepted to remove the soft soil, and replace it with 17,050 yards of proper fill before 150 tons of limestone is spread out in the area.

The lowest and best bid came from Sambo’s Dozer Service, at $24,450, Lamb said. He added that the city still has $17,000 left in the loan used to build the new facility. The Board approved a motion to award the bid to that contractor.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the Board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters in the Police Department. City Clerk Jane O’Neal said that when the Board came back into open session, a motion was approved to hire Scotty Duane Prine as a full-time officer.

— Approved a motion to set the dates of April 22, April 30, May 6 and May 13 to interview 7 candidates for police chief. 

— Authorized Police Officer Chris McGinnis to become a school resource officer as of April 27.

— Approved applying for Small Municipalities and Limited Population Counties Applications grant funds to be used for additional renovations to the Town Green.

— Denied a request from Sandra Maness to install a streetlight near her home on N. Jackson Street so she can see in her yard.

The next Board meeting will be May 7 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.