ADAMS COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Law enforcement jobs are considered some of the most dangerous in America, according to the U-S Bureau of Labor Statistics. The dangers -- along with the pay and perception of policing -- make it difficult to hire and retain police officers nationwide. There are some new officers in the state ready for the challenge.
Quayshawn Dennard joined the Natchez Police Department in January and Marvin Warner Jr. joined the Adams County Sheriff’s Office a little more than a year ago. The law enforcement officers say they both love their jobs.
“You get to make contact with the county, the community and meet new people,” said Warner.
“Getting the admiration from the youth and my children. They see police officers as the good guy, then before when they saw us as the bad guy and I want to keep that going,” said Dennard.
The officers admit the job is demanding and dangerous. Walter Armstrong is the Natchez Police Chief and President of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police. While he’s pleased to see these young officers answer the call to service, over the past few years the interest in becoming a police officer has plummeted nationwide.
“Of course, officers - we don’t make a lot of money. We are not in it for the money. Because of the anti-police wave, the violence, that creates a huge problem," said Armstrong.
Armstrong says it will take federal, state, and local leaders working together to help recruit and retain officers, something he says the city of Natchez is working hard to do every day. They have recently gone from ten open slots at the police department to six.
“We have increased the pay, we have equipped each of the officers with body cams, and just yesterday we went before the mayor and board of aldermen and we got permission to put GPS tracking systems in our vehicles. As a result, this Friday we are going to give the police examine where we have 79 applicants,” said Armstrong.
That's good news to these law enforcement officers who encourage others to also join the team to help protect and serve communities.
“The biggest misconception is they take advantage of the badge and abuse the power versus now that I am on the force, I observed these guys giving it their all,” said Dennard.