Deputy police chief gets 40% raise to $65,000

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 1, 2002

[11/01/02]Vicksburg’s deputy police chief received a 40 percent raise during a closed City Hall meeting last month, and Police Chief Tommy Moffett said Thursday his hand-picked helper is not subject to a rule that would have blocked the increase.

Deputy Chief Richard O’Bannon’s pay went from $46,500-a-year to $65,000, an increase of $18,500. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved the pay request made by Moffett during an executive session on Oct. 10.

“As far as I’m concerned, his job description is the same as the chief of police except he doesn’t have the final responsibility,” Mayor Laurence Leyens said, explaining why O’Bannon’s salary is higher than the aldermen’s.

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Moffett, sworn in here 12 months ago after his retirement as chief in Biloxi, is being paid $80,000. That is $39,000 more than former Chief Mitchell Dent.

O’Bannon, also formerly with the Biloxi department, followed Moffett and, the chief said, was promised his new salary within his first year of employment.

But O’Bannon was suspended and new rules for rank-and-file officers say no raises will be awarded during the quarter of any suspension or the two subsequent quarters. By that rule, O’Bannon could not receive a raise until next year.

No specific reason for the two-day suspension was ever given.

“My deputy chief said something that was not appropriate and I disciplined him,” Moffett said. “He does a good job.”

Moffett said the city-approved policy does not apply to the deputy chief.

“For the things that we have to deal with, I’m not sure if we get paid enough,” Moffett said.

Police and fire personnel except for the chiefs and deputy chiefs fall under civil service rules. Because of that distinction, Moffett said the deputy chief also does not fall under the incentive program initiated by Leyens who said he wanted to make the Vicksburg Police Department the best and highest-paid in the state. Under the guidance of Moffett, the city adopted a quarterly evaluation pay system for police officers and set a new pay scale.

Under that new system, a first-year patrolman can make a maximum base pay of $31,000 annually plus incentives for education and physical fitness. The highest ranking officer under the chiefs, a captain, can make up to $42,700 plus other incentives.