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DPD hopes to grow police force

DEMOPOLIS-It’s no secret that booming growth is probably in the near future for Demopolis. With growth comes a need for more personnel.

One of the most important needs on the horizon of growth is new police officers. Demopolis Police Chief Jeff Manuel said the need for new officers is quickly becoming a reality in the River City.

However, Manuel also said steps have been taken to attract capable policemen.

“Raising the salary was one step,” Manuel said. “I think building a new public safety complex will also help. When new recruits come in and see a nice new building, it lets them see there is a concern in the city for the police department.”

Competition for new officers is tough. Manuel said they must offer competitive packages with other cities. He also said Alabama State Troopers are hoping to add to their numbers as well.

“The state troopers are getting ready to add some people so we have to get ready for that,” Manuel said. “There are also always going to be a couple of cities that have higher wages, so that is just something we have to deal with.”

The Demopolis department normally tries to have 26 sworn officers, Manuel said, but right now they are at 21. He said he expects to see their numbers and need grow more and more in the next two years.

“With the way Demopolis is going to grow, we may need around 30 to 35 officers,” Manuel said. “That could be where we are in a couple of years depending on growth.”

The key, Manuel said, was helping the department grow in proportion to citizens and funding. Several cities, Manuel said, have over-estimated the need for new officers, causing some additions to be short-lived.

“Places like Homewood and Leeds are having to lay officers off,” Manuel said. “We have to look at that. We don’t want to hire a bunch of officers and not have a need or the funding for them. It is something we have to be very careful about.”

Manuel said the department planned to work closely with the city to monitor their needs and keep them reasonable.