Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Oxford Police Get Pay Raise, Looking to Hire New Officers

The Oxford Police Department is seeking officers and money from the Board of Aldermen.
The Oxford Police Department is seeking officers and money from the Board of Aldermen.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen has now approved a pay raise for local police officers and the increase could not have come at a better time.  While more people are moving into Oxford every year, the city’s police officers have been moving out.
“Places that pay more and have the equipment and technology, the officers are going there,” said Oxford Police Chief Joey East.
Oxford’s officers have been offered higher salaries in other cities in Mississippi such as Southaven and Tupelo. In those cities, officers can make $5,000 – $10,000 more each year. The starting pay for an Oxford patrol officer is around $34,000.
“Other departments that are quality departments will always raise the bar,” East said. He says Oxford is competing with other cities that will pay their officers more to keep them.
The Oxford Police Department (OPD) has lost 18 officers over the past two years and, according to one OPD spokesperson, attrition rates for the department are almost double the national average.
In October, OPD Major of Operations Jeff McCutchen, noticed that several officers were leaving for jobs in other law enforcement agencies. McCutchen, Officer Joe Bishop and Officer Donovan Lyons worked to gather and present this research on the issue to educate the mayor and Board of Aldermen.
“The first time we met with the board, I think Mayor Patterson’s remark was ‘we hear you,’’’ said East. This week the board approved pay increases for officers who have been in the department for two or more years.  The new salaries will range from about $36,500 for a two-year veteran of the force  to $45,300 for those who have been on the job for more than eight years.
Data was taken from WREG Memphis news.
Average salaries for police officers. Source: WREG-TV.

Ward 2 Alderman Robyn Tannehill said that Oxford has become very accustomed to a certain level of quality of life and a large part of that is because of Oxford’s public safety. “It’s very difficult to put a price tag on the value of what our police officers and police force mean to our community,” says Tannehill.
The board also signed off on the hiring of five new officers, but East says it’s even more important to keep the existing force intact. “You can replace their body and can train them, but never get back the experience you just lost. It takes three, really five years to get a good quality trained officer that can handle the diversity issues and the quality of life issues.”
OPD is now looking to make one more hire, so the force will be set at 64 officers.
Tannehill says the Board of Aldermen has worked hard to provide for the OPD. “We’ve just studied the budget and made cuts in other places so that we could demonstrate our commitment to helping our police department be competitive with those around us,” says Tannehill.
The Oxford Police Department believes these increases will help “retain the very qualified officers that we have and to also attract officers when looking for new hires,” says OPD Officer Joe Bishop.

This story was contributed by Ole Miss journalism student Courtney Richards, clricha3@go.olemiss.edu.

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