VPD loses 20 years of experience with five resignations|[01/10/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2008

Already lacking in personnel, the Vicksburg Police Department lost about 20 years of law-enforcement experience when five officers resigned in December.

The list of resignations Deputy Chief Richard O’Bannon read to the Civil Services Commission Wednesday included that of Sgt. Tom Wilson, a 16-year veteran of the department.

Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett this morning attributed the resignation to Wilson’s desire for change and to spend more time with his family. Wilson could not be reached.

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Wilson, who spent his last two years with the police department’s narcotics division, is now a Warren County Sheriff’s deputy.

Another city policeman who resigned and took a position with the sheriff’s department is London Williams, who had worked as a deputy for the department before, but resigned in February to take a position on the city force and seek the elective post of sheriff of Issaquena County.

Williams returned to the Warren County ranks two months after his unsuccessful political campaign.

Moffett said the others who resigned last month were Wayne Lynch, a patrolman for a little more than two years who is now working with the Mississippi Gaming Commission; Naomi Ford, working for the Jackson Police Department after one year of service in Vicksburg; and Lawrence Bar, a 4-month patrolman who is now working for a security company in the Jackson area.

Since Moffett was appointed police chief in October 2001, the number of personnel at the police department has dropped from 102 to 61 today, he said.

However, Moffett has said he cannot justify returning employment numbers to 2001 levels.

“Back then, the numbers were high, but the response was terrible and accountability was non-existent,” Moffett said. “We had a lot of people doing nothing. Right now, we don’t have all that. We have quality officers that get quality work done.

“Now that’s not to say I wouldn’t like to hire more people,” Moffett added. “Because our numbers are down, our officers have to work that much harder. I’d like to fix that.”

Moffett said the department, which has about a $6 million budget, is allotted 87 positions and he would like to see all of those positions filled as soon as possible. He said six people are expected to be hired in two or three weeks. He said law enforcement numbers are down across the country.

Moffett, 57, became Vicksburg’s chief after retiring as chief of Biloxi’s police department where he had worked 24 years. He replaced Mitchell Dent, who for two years had been chief of a department that had as many as six chiefs in the previous 10 years.