VPD OK’d to increase staffing

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Vicksburg police department got the OK Monday from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to increase its force by one.

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong asked to raise the staffing model from 80 to 81 officers.

The department has 72 officers and plans to hire eight more as soon as next month, Armstrong said.

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“We have an officer who’s been on military leave since 2005, and he’s worked six months during that time period,” Armstrong told the board. “We got notice last week that he has been activated for another year, and his salary will not be paid during that time. I believe much of our success in covering this city has to do with the manpower and to have this extra officer on our roster, we can continue to provide the services.”

The deployed officer is Investigator Doug King, who is not being paid while serving overseas.

The 81 officers is about 20 fewer than 10 years ago when Deputy Chief Mitchell Dent was chief. He said the force fluctuated to as low as 50 during Mayor Laurence Leyens’ two terms, 2001 to 2009.

“With the number of calls the police department answers,” Dent said, “you have to have adequate manpower for that. I think the number we have budgeted for now is adequate.”

Dent, who returned to the city police force in June as deputy chief of operations, said the police department receives nearly 100,000 calls annually.

“We’re allowing ourselves to keep our staffing model where it needs to be,” Mayor Paul Winfield said.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, who was not at the meeting because of illness, said he would have voted for the request.

The police department’s annual budget this fiscal year is $6.5 million, up from $6.1 million last fiscal year.

In other business, the board agreed to a contract with Veljo Davis, a former city human resource associate who resigned Dec. 14, to assist in the human resources department on an as-needed basis.

Interim director Walterine Langford said Davis will help input data when needed until all human resource associates are trained at the job.

Also Monday, the board awarded a sealed bid to Peach State Ambulance of Tyrone, Ga., for the remounting of two Type III ambulances and for the purchase of a new ambulance.

For the remounts, the city will spend $69,500 for a unit 40 type model and $65,262 for a unit 81 model.

The new ambulance will cost $110,116.

The lowest bid of $92,305, from Taylor Made Ambulance of Newport, Ark., was rejected because it did not meet city specifications, purchasing director Tim Smith said.