Thursday, April 18, 2013
Police chief asks to restructure
By SUE WATSON
Holly Springs Police Chief William Hollowell has recommended a plan to restructure the police department.
The project, presented recently to the mayor and board of aldermen, involves some promotions and some goal setting.
Hollowell said there are four divisions within the department – narcotics, detectives, patrol operations, and services. He wants to upgrade the leadership over these divisions and give some raises to make the department more competitive in salary with surrounding cities its size.
Holly Springs loses officers to Marshall County Sheriff’s Department and to DeSoto County Sheriff’s departments because of low salaries, he said.
“We are not on par with places like Olive Branch, Senatobia, Collierville, Tupelo and Oxford,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest attractions for new police officers right now because of higher pay.”
Entry level salaries at the police department for new officers is at $24,400 a year. After officers graduate from the police academy, they are eligible for a raise to about $30,000 a year. Many police officers work second jobs in order to make their budgets work. Some work security at Rust College, for instance.
Hollowell recommended five promotions and partial raises that will be fully implemented in the next fiscal year budget, starting October 1. The pay will align itself with the state average pay for police ranks – a state standard pay scale for Mississippi law enforcement. The pay scale takes into consideration the relative sizes of towns and their populations in the state.
Darryl Bowen will be promoted to second in command and to captain. He will act as chief when Hollowell is out of the office. Bowen moves up from patrol and has over 16 years with the Holly Springs Police Department. He is in charge of all divisions in the department when Hollowell is not there.
Sgt. Dwight Harris will be promoted to lieutenant and will head the patrol operations division. There are four shifts, two day and two night, Hollowell said.
Two police officers – David Pannell and Michael Perkins – will be promoted to shift supervisors in the patrol division.
Lt. Billy Smith, a veteran officer of 20-plus years, will supervise the services division. He will directly supervise court clerks, desk clerks, and two animal control officers and the maintenance of the police fleet.
The department is fully staffed with 33 full-time staff – 22 uniformed officers and 11 administrative staff. There are three part-time reserve officers.
Hollowell, who took over the lead of the police department October 8, 2012, said he is ready to get on with the job of reducing crime in the city and has set various goals.
He is working to establish a citizens police advisory committee of volunteers and expects to hold an organizational meeting in early April. The committee will give feedback on anything they would like to see police pay more attention to, he said.
Another goal is to organize a Neighborhood Watch which has not really gotten on its feet, despite the need for it and desire of the department for it.
In terms of goals to reduce crime, Hollowell said his overall goal is to reduce residential and commercial break-ins by 50 percent by summer. Break-ins are something citizens worry about the most, he said.
Other problems in the city include gang and drug-related activity which gets more active in warmer weather, he said. And he wants to curb shoplifting, a problem that is most prevalent at dollar stores and gas stations.
Hollowell said he is pleased with the municipal court, which is held weekly at the Marshall County justice complex. He said prosecutor Amery Moore and judge Gene Brown are doing an outstanding job handling misdemeanor cases. Felony cases are handled by Marshall County circuit court. Municipal court is held every Thursday.
Security at municipal court has been tightened with scanners in use and requirement that pockets be emptied. Bailiff and court security are handled by officer Robert Redmond and Lt. Billy Smith.
“I feel very good about where we are,” Hollowell said. “The mayor and board of aldermen are very supportive of my initiatives. I am very pleased with the support I have received from them and from the community in general.”
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