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Manuel fits into new job

Jeffery Manuel, director of public safety and acting police chief, has doubled his job. He’s also doubled his hours.

Manuel’s new position has forced his usual eight-hour day to become 14-hour days. He has to maintain his regular duties plus work with the police department.

Just a few weeks ago Manuel’s primary duties consisted of administration and budgeting duties. Now, he is more interested in "making sure all departments are heading in the right direction."

The change in strategy is because Manuel is having to fill the shoes of Police Chief Avery, who retired earlier this month.

The Demopolis City Council, in charge of appointing the new police chief, has not started reviewing candidates. The process is set to begin in about six months, and is opened to "someone who is progressive and has a proven track record," Manuel said.

While the city and Manuel work to find the right permanent police chief, Manuel has some plans to upgrade his department.

Recently, the Law Enforcement Department was awarded a grant to equip cars with cameras and update radar system. The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) is part of the department’s efforts to enforce traffic laws and continues to stay developed with the growing technology.

Manuel has no complaints about the department’s equipment; it’s the dire need for more police officers. He anticipates a failing economy will draw in prospective officers. According to Manuel, they are six officers short this year, but while other cities have been forced to stop pay raises and instill a hiring freeze, officers in Demopolis received a

3-percent raise this year.

Manuel has been in the law enforcement field for 18 years, leaving his post as Chief of Police in Livingston. He chose to come to Demopolis for the need to move on to a progressing city.

However, he notes his experience in Livingston was "very enjoyable."

Splitting his two duties is not an easy task, but Manuel believes he can help the entire public safety department progress. He hopes to see new public safety and the fire station buildings erected, programs implemented and

better communication "between us and the community." He realizes the department needs to be more involved with the people in the community.

Avery and Manuel both had different managerial philosophies, but he respected Manuel said he respected Avery’s vision for Demopolis and his contributions to the community. Ultimately, he believes the city of Demopolis is heading in the right direction.