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11 police positions cut; 2 are deputy chief spots

[09/11/01] Vicksburg officials announced Monday the elimination of 11 positions in the police department, including two deputy chief slots.

After a lengthy closed session, North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young announced the changes and one termination in the department. Police Chief Mitchell Dent said most of the jobs were civilians, but included were the deputy chief posts held since April 2000 by Janelle Lee and Frank Phelps.

Lee and Phelps will continue in other positions. Jack Dowe will continue as deputy chief, returning the department to one deputy chief, which is how it operated before the promotions of Lee and Phelps.

“These are some of the first steps we are taking toward redefining our department,” Dent said.

He did not indicate what those other steps might be, but did say that the civilian employment would drop from 34 to 20. Dent said that positions cut Monday were clerical, desk clerks and data entry clerks.

The $29.4 million city budget approved last week calls for a cut in the number of officers from 100 to 74. Personnel costs for the police department were reduced by $1.4 million in the new budget while pay for officers was increased.

With the new pay scale, Vicksburg police officers will be the highest paid in Mississippi. Starting pay will be $32,422.

“We are still looking at some things in the police department,” said South Ward Aldermen Sid Beauman. “But we are not prepared as of yet to make some further moves.”

Dent said that Lee and Phelps will be lieutenants again.

He said the remaining civilian employees whose jobs were cut were given two weeks to find other employment.

“Sept. 28 will be their last day of employment with the city unless they transfer to other departments,” Dent said.

In other matters the board:

Approved the removal of 12 vehicles from the police department’s inventory and authorized the sale of the cars as surplus either at auction or to other municipalities. Dent had cited the cuts in personnel for the sale of the vehicles.

Authorized submitting a charter amendment changing the durational residency requirement for city officers to the governor. The charter now says officers must have been city residents for two years before being appointed. It has not been enforced and such requirements have been ruled invalid elsewhere.

Accepted lost or stolen property affidavits to be deleted from the fixed inventory list.

Set a special assessment on property that was cut and cleaned by the city.

Authorized the building inspector to demolish four structures and to cut and clean nine lots.

Approved the Claims Docket.

The city board will meet again at 10 a.m., Monday at City Hall Annex.