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Natchez fire police, chiefs sound alarm about staff shortages
from Staff Reports - NEWS
April 12, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The chiefs of the Natchez fire and police departments sounded alarms Tuesday about a lack of manpower that could cripple the city’s capacity to fight crime and fires.

“It’s a life and public safety matter,” said Natchez Fire Chief Aaron Wesley. “We have to do something.”

Wesley and Natchez Police Chief Danny White told Mayor Darryl Grennell and city aldermen Tuesday of a spike in the city’s emergency first responders quitting their jobs.

“I’m short manning the streets,” White said.

Low pay is the reason cited for the exodus of officers from the NFD and NPD. “Everything is about the money,” Wesley said.

In response to the fire and police chiefs’ pleas to pay their personnel more, the Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to gather more information.

“We’ve got to know where we can come up with the money,” said Alderman Sarah Carter Smith, who noted the city might save money consolidating its law-enforcement force with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

Wesley said the NFD has 44 firefighters -- 13 per shift that should be increased to 16 per shift. About eight have quit in recent months, and three or four about to quit, he said. The starting pay for a Natchez fireman is $24,400 a year, according to Wesley.

The NPD has 43 police officers, White said, and recently lost six with two or three more about to quit.

The two chiefs said it’s many years since Natchez police officers and firemen got pay raises but, in actuality, their pay was increased in 2012 by 5 percent. The NFD then employed 48 people and the NPD had 44.

Aldermen Dan Dillard questioned whether the NFD and NPD have too few employed. “I don’t know if we are understaffed,” said Dillard, citing national employee averages of cities similar in population to Natchez. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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