JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The City of Vicksburg is facing a staffing shortage at its police department.
“When you wear a badge, it is a badge of honor and integrity,” said Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs.
Vicksburg police and Mayor Flaggs celebrated the promotion of one their patrolmen to sergeant Wednesday. They say the goal is to retain and move more qualified officers up in rank, but lately it hasn’t been easy due to dwindling numbers on the force.
“We are currently slated for 81, but we currently have 61," said Deputy Chief Bobby Stewart. “Therefore, we have 20 openings at this time.”
The shortage comes at a time when the city is dealing with a wave of violence.
According to police, there have been more than a dozen shootings and eight homicides so far this year, compared to five last year.
“We are trying to implement more full-scale community policing," said Mayor Flaggs. “When we do that we can do patrols a lot better, and we will have more patrolmen in the community trying to close the gap on the crimes of burglary in those type things.”
The mayor and police officials admit that recruiting and retaining qualified and interested candidates has been a challenge due issues, such as money.
Last year, the city raised the pay for police to stay competitive.
“Here in the city of Vicksburg, the starting salary is $14.50, but we are now advertising at $14.75,” said Stewart.
“We are looking at an additional pay scale," added Mayor Flaggs. “We are looking at utilizing part-time officers, redoing the work schedule and there are a number of things we are looking at. The chief is also going to make some recommendations in the near future.”
If you are interested in joining the force, you can pick up an application at Vicksburg City Hall. You have until September 21 to complete and submit your application.