Cops getting new cars

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The acquisition of eight new police patrol cars for the Selma Police Department came as welcome news. Now, all that’s needed is someone to drive them.

Numbers at the SPD have dwindled as of late, just as other smaller departments around the country face the challenges of recruiting police officers. Valeria Jones, Selma director of human resources, has an ongoing campaign recruiting police and firefighters.

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The Selma City Council approved the lease of eight patrol cars through Ford Motor Company, the lowest responsible bidder, at a cost of $247,600. The interest rate, according to Mayor James Perkins Jr., would be 6.05 percent. Councilman Reid Cain, a local banker, had two problems with the mayor’s proposal.

Perkins said it was the rate they were quoted, and that rates &8220;change every day.&8221; The council voted 7-1 to approve proceeding to secure the lease/purchase agreement. The initial lease payment is $55,000, and is due Sept. 28, according to Cynthia Mitchell, city treasurer.

The city purchased 11 new cars last year, which were added to the aging fleet. Officers had complained the cars were not adequately equipped, without working mirrors, video cameras and running hot. City officials thought it was a good idea to better equip police officers to do their jobs.

Acting Police Chief Jimmy Martin has reported there are 47 officers in the SPD, but not all of the officers patrol Selma streets. Martin said the optimal number of police officers, which they have budgeted for, is 60 officers.

The starting salary for a Selma police officer is $26,000 a year, which also makes it hard to recruit since larger departments start officers at nearly $10,000 a year more.