The Starkville Police Department Tuesday took its first step in rebuilding its force following the loss of seven officers this year.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved the hiring of three new officers during its regularly scheduled meeting, including one who is already certified.
Derek Nelson will join the SPD in two weeks following three years as an officer with the Amory Police Department. Ashley Hannah and Matthew Davis are uncertified officers that must complete the 10-week Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy before joining the force.
“Those three were selected out of a pool of 50 applicants,” SPD Chief David Lindley said. “The attrition was quite high on the screening process.”
After losing 10 percent of his force, Lindley said hiring two uncertified officers won”t affect the long-term stability of the SPD. Despite having other certified applicants in the pool, Lindley said the same detailed process he”s used for 20 years produced the three best candidates. Factors include a physical training test, physical, and background check and psychological tests.
“Sometimes you don”t get any trained applicants in a pool,” Lindley said. “But we got three quality candidates coming to us.”
Still, the uncertified candidates won”t make a significant impact on the force for at least a year, Lindley said. In addition to academy training, the officers must complete field training and familiarization courses.
“Whenever you lose experienced personnel, it”s much more time consuming to replace that officer than it appears to be,” Lindley said. “It won”t be business as usual for quite some time.”
Following Tuesday”s hirings, the SPD will still have six slots left to fill, Lindley said. SPD will be able to add two more officers on Oct. 1.
In other matters, the board heard Starkville City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw”s update of fiscal year 2011 revenues and expenditures. Mayor Parker Wiseman said revenues are projected to come in $100,000 better than expected, while expenditures will come in close to $200,000 lower than expected.
“Of course, we won”t know the exact figures until fiscal year ”11 is over,” Wiseman said, “but having a projected net surplus in the neighborhood of $300,000 is a good figure.”