Officers deserve more pay

Published 4:32 pm Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual Crime in the United States Report earlier this week and the statistics unfortunately confirmed what we already knew — Selma has a crime problem.

Actually, that may be understating it.

In cities with a population of 1,000 or more, Selma had the highest rate in Alabama in property crime and in total crime on a per capita basis. In violent crime, Selma had the fifth highest total per capita of cities with a population of 1,000 or more.

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The numbers say that a crime is more likely to take place in Selma than in bigger cities like Birmingham or Montgomery.

Obviously, every city is different and faces its own unique set of circumstances, so studying them side-by-side can be like trying to compare apples and oranges.

However, it’s clear something isn’t working in Selma and all efforts need to be made to counter the ongoing crime problem.

The first step is to find a way to pay our police officers what their worth.

Former Selma police chief William Riley was always outspoken about trying to ensure better pay for his officers and newly appointed chief John Brock is already fighting the same fight.

The city budgets for 60 police officers but only has 47 officers on staff. Brock said that it’s hard for him to recruit other officers to Selma due to the lack of pay.

Although he’s not keen on comparing the numbers, Brock understands the key to lowering the crime rate is by getting more officers on the streets.

He’s right, and it all starts with paying our officers.

We understand it isn’t as easy as waving a magic wand to create extra money in the budget, but it should be the city’s top priority.

Nothing else should matter as much as fixing this crime problem.

The city has so many good things happening for it and so many people working to make Selma into a place people want to live. Unfortunately, the crime numbers are hard to ignore.

Potential businesses and industries probably have a hard time getting past Selma’s crime rate. If those numbers ever go down, maybe the city could actually attract more businesses and in turn have more jobs available.

Sadly, there is no fix-all that will eliminate all of the crime in Selma or anywhere else. However, adding more police officers and rewarding those on staff would be a big step in the right direction.

Just having more officers on the street would eliminate many crimes and might make wrongdoers think twice before acting against the law.