SPD hires two officers from Wilcox County

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Selma Police Department recently added to the ranks of its K-9 unit and Criminal Investigations Division (CID) with the hiring of two officers from the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office.

Matt Till, a K-9 officer, was hired in late October, and Steve Carlisle, an investigator, was hired in late December.

Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier said it is part of a strategy to recruit veteran officers from surrounding and statewide agencies.

“For too many years, surrounding agencies have recruited experienced officers from the Selma Police Department,” Collier said. “I quickly realized that there isn’t an unwritten rule to keep us from doing the same.”

Collier said he worked to loosen some of the “archaic rules” when it comes to hiring lateral officers and then focused on area officers that had a “great reputation for working hard.”

The addition of Till and his K-9, Tok, gives the department a total of five K-9s. According to Collier, a local business assisted the department in purchasing the K-9 from the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office.

“I was strategically reviewing our K-9 program. Unfortunately, our K-9 officer were basically patrol officers with K-9s,” Collier said. “That was a result of manpower shortage and not quite having enough K-9s.”

Collier said Till, who worked for the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Department and was also a part-time member of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, showed interest in working for Selma if he could bring his K-9 along with him.

Since Till was hired, Collier said the K-9 unit as a whole has been responsible for 49 felony arrests with 18 of those by Till. Collier said the entire K-9 unit has made a dozen drug trafficking cases in that same time period.

According to Collier, that is more trafficking cases than the department had in all of 2016 and the first nine months of 2017 combined.

“The addition of the fifth K-9 duo allowed the K-9 unit to operate according to policy, which is safer for the officer and community,” Collier said. “We basically keep a K-9 unit in patrol every day late into the night.”

Collier said since the addition of the fifth K-9, the department’s call volume has decreased significantly.

“Calls for service has dropped on average of approximately 100 calls in a 24-hour period to approximately 60 calls for service in a 24-hour period,” Collier said. “I am sure there are other factors that helped lead to that reduction, but that’s a tangible number that proves the K-9 unit in Selma is helping to reduce crime.”

Carlisle, a career criminal investigator, was the chief investigator for the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office.

Collier said he waived the physical training requirement, which sped up the hiring of Carlisle and allowed him to be assigned to the CID.

“The old system was archaic and it discouraged experienced investigators like Steve from applying,” Collier said. “Using common sense allows us to get an investigator with decades of experience.”

Collier said the department will continue to be “innovative” in hiring new officers and adding to the ranks.