Columbus PD Recruiting New Officers
COLUMBUS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
From left, Assistant Chief Fred Shelton, new cadet Haley Lucas, CPD Chief Oscar Lewis, Mayor Robert Smith and cadet Shawn Neal spoke at a press conference in the Municipal Complex courtroom on Wednesday. Columbus Police Department is set to send 14 cadets to the police academy soon. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
The Columbus Police Department is ready to send fourteen trainees, five of whom are already slated to be hired, to the police academy. This will bring the total officer count up to about 60 officers, Mayor Robert Smith told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Police Chief Oscar Lewis said that the class will commence training at the academy starting May 21 in Moorehead. They will undergo a twelve-week course, after which the officers will return to Columbus to ride with veteran officers and take advantage of the field training program.
“The good thing with these guys now — they’ve been in the classroom before the academy,” Lewis said. “They’ve been put with officers and are riding around learning the standard operating procedure for the city and working with firearms and doing different things.”
Shaun Neal, 22, of Columbus, is one of the officers who will be part of this record-setting class. Neal decided he wanted to become an officer late last year so he could make a positive impact in his community: “I want to be a police officer because I don’t want to be statistic — I want to be a changer, not to fit into what the news is saying about police because not every police officer is the same,” he said.
Haley Lucas, a 23-year-old officer trainee, is a military police officer for the U.S. Navy, and said she’s been interested in law enforcement since her early childhood. Lucas, who is from Caledonia but currently lives in Tupelo, told reporters she’s happy to come back to try to help improve her home area.
On Wednesday, Lewis said he’s thankful to see the department drawing closer to full strength, adding that measures the city took such as increasing officer pay and purchasing new vehicles were instrumental in recruiting more officers. He expressed his gratitude to the current officers on the force who have been working extra-hard to get the job done: “These officers have been working long and hard — some not even getting days off just to make this work –and I admire them for the job that they have done,” he said. “It’s been great to see the things they’ve been able to accomplish with the numbers that we’ve had during that time.”
“No one more than I would like to see us get to where we need to be, which was approved in the budget for 67 officers, because they’re really needed,” Mayor Smith said. He later added, “I see the city trying to immediately continuing to try to reach that goal of 77 (officers). That’s where I’d like to see us at.”
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