McCloud updates city board

Published 5:06 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

Batesville Police Chief Jimmy McCloud said significantly better salaries offered by neighboring law enforcement agents continue to be the main reason his department routinely has patrolmen resign and take jobs in those counties. Six vacancies are currently being advertised, he said.

McCloud told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen at last week’s board meeting another patrolman hired a year ago is leaving for employment with the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department. Because he has been employed for at least a year, the city will not be able to recoup any training expenses from the other agency.

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Officers who leave before that one-year period have a prorated invoice for the costs of their training sent to the agency who has hired them. Thousands of dollars are invested by the City of Batesville every year for training of rookie officers who must attend several courses and the state’s law enforcement academy.

Additionally, but not countable, are the hours spent providing street training and practical policing to new hires. Some agencies will encourage young officers to work in Batesville or other municipalities to get their training and a year or two of experience, knowing they can easily lure good officers away with considerably better pay and benefits.

Batesville PD has long had the problem of officer resignations, mostly in the group of officers with one to three years experience. McCloud has said in prior meetings that pay structure in the department is competitive for policemen with about 10 years experience, but officers just beginning their careers in Batesville can expect to earn much less than their counterparts in Lafayette, DeSoto and other counties until longevity raises take effect.

McCloud also reported that one potential hire, Eric Conley, who was supposed to begin work last week, sent a text to Asst. Chief Kerry Pittman’s phone at 8:02 a.m. on the day he was to have started informing the department he would not be filling the position for which he was hired. The chief said all of the expenses incurred by the city in pre-employment testing and background checks will be totaled and invoiced to Conley.

McCloud also updated aldermen on the progress of the renovations currently underway at the police department building on College St. A change order of $1,870 was approved for general contractor Swindoll Construction and M&M Glass Company’s bid of $13,500 to install a security door at the front  of the station and replace the back doors with updated models.

The change order was necessary because plans to enlarge the station’s data room by removing a wall between rooms was halted when workers found the floors of the two rooms didn’t match and the difference was enough to create a trip hazard. The floors will be leveled and re-tiled.

The new door at the station will be between the dispatcher and anyone coming through the front door. It will operate with an electronic switch at the front desk and add another layer of safety for police, McCloud said. The back doors were installed when the Batesville Library was renovated and the locking mechanisms can’t be repaired, he said.

In other business before the board, McCloud was given approval to accept a quote from Oxford Alarm and Communicatons for $7,169 to install a new security camera system at the station as part of the remodel.

Four patrol vehicles ordered recently for the department will need police equipment packages installed on arrival, McCloud said, and asked for approval to have those cars upgraded for $21,575 by Gray-Daniels car dealership, who provided the lowest quote for the work.