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Poplarville police set to begin take home car program

Now that the Board of Aldermen has approved, Poplarville Police Department will begin allowing officers to take home their patrol vehicle starting Monday.

The Board of Aldermen adopted the individually assigned departmental vehicle program policy during Tuesday’s meeting, and the Board will reevaluate the policy in six months. The Board found the vehicle use will benefit Poplarville, because they believe having a police presence throughout the city will improve crime prevention and reduce response time. Both unmarked and marked vehicles will be eligible.

The program will be both a privilege for officers and function as a hiring incentive, said city attorney Manya Bryan.

Chief of Police Greg Hartley said that he will monitor the program with regular reports on fuel usage.

Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire said she has voted against take home car programs in the past, because she’s seen the privilege abused. Wiltshire seconded the motion to approve the policy Tuesday, after the Board agreed that the policy should be reevaluated in six months.

Alderman Russell Miller said he believes officers will take better care of their cars if cars are assigned to them individually, and if the car is poorly cared for, it will be very clear who was responsible.

Alderman Kevin Tillman voted against the new policy.

In a separate matter, the Board accepted the resignation of police officer Mike Smith, effective Sept. 16. Alderwoman Anne Smith voted against accepting the resignation. Smith said she voted against accepting the resignation because she has questions about the circumstances.

The Board approved an internal job posting for a police officer, and if no qualified internal candidates are found, the job will be advertised externally.

The Board entered executive session to discuss personnel matters within the police department and potential litigation. No motions were made after executive session.

In other business the Board:

—Entered into an interlocal agreement with the county to allow the city to use the county’s floodplain administrator and staff to administer and enforce floodplain management regulations in the floodplain management ordinance.

—Voted to declare October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the request of Gulf Coast Center for Non-Violence representative Stephanie Piper.

—Approved a request from April Grecho on behalf of the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce, Sweet Tea Festival and Farmer’s Market to use the old Police Department building located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Grecho said a door needs to be replaced and the groups want to paint a mural on the building.

—Approved an event request from Loretta Conerly to conduct a benefit on Oct. 12 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at City Park.

—Approved an event request from Oak Hill Baptist Church to conduct a Christmas play on Dec. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Square Park.

The next Board meeting will be Tuesday Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.