City approves police hires, vehicle purchase

Published 3:30 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Four officers were hired by the City Board of Aldermen for the Brookhaven Police Department Tuesday, and the purchase of a department pickup was also approved.

The board approved the hire of two non-certified officers and two certified officers, with votes of 6-0. Alderman-at-large Don Underwood was not in attendance.

Justin Royal and Vincent Brown were hired as non-certified patrol officers at annual salaries of $33,750, pending drug tests, physicals and background checks.

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Corey Dillon was hired as a certified patrolman with 17 years of experience at a salary of $45,000. Tyrus Daniels was hired as a certified officer with 5 years’ experience at a salary of $45,000. Both are also pending drug tests, physicals and background checks. All of the officers live in the Brookhaven-Lincoln County area.

The department requested the purchase of a 2023 Ford F-150 XL pickup, to be paid for with insurance reimbursements from vehicles totaled in traffic accidents. Sullivan Ford had the lower quote at $49,990. The other quote was from Keith White Ford at $58,100.

Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Henning asked Assistant Police Chief Clint Earls what vehicle was being replaced, why a truck was needed, and if the department currently had pickups.

“The silver pickup I drove, which was rear-ended by a Fed Ex truck and totaled,” Earls answered. “We have Chief (Collins’) truck, another old one … and an F250 purchased with a Katrina grant. It’s having issues.”

“Not a day-to-day vehicle?” Mayor Joe Cox asked.

“No, sir,” Earls replied.

Earls said trucks were used by the department in cases when something needed to be done that one of the sedans or SUVs could not do adequately. He gave the example of recovering pieces of stolen ATVs in the middle of the night from a field.

“It gives us the option to pick up bigger items we’ve recovered,” the assistant chief said. “Some situations are just better for a truck than an SUV or car.”

Henning asked it the truck requested was for everyday use, and for more examples of how it would be useful. Earls said the truck he had previously was used to carry generators, light pods, bigger equipment, cameras, fingerprint kits, and other materials used to process crime scenes. 

Henning asked if vehicles were available for the new patrolmen hired, and Earls said yes. Earls also presented two refurbished SUVs to be used for patrol — a 2018 for $30,700 and a 2020 for $29,700. 

“We’ve had good results, but police use is pretty rough,” he said. The reason a department gets rid of a vehicle is not known, and any potential problems with the vehicles are not known prior to purchase. 

“We’ve got a truck wrecked, two SUVs wrecked, four Tauruses going obsolete,” Ward 6 Alderman Andre’ Spiller said. “Why put officers in refurbished vehicles? I’d rather have officers in brand new vehicles they can count on.”

Chief Collins said he understood, but the department was currently just attempting to replace what they had — one truck for a truck, and two SUVs for two SUVs.

“I just can’t see the reason for getting a truck when we need to get new vehicles for officers,” Spiller said. 

Earls said he was all for new vehicles, if the aldermen would authorize that purchase.

Henning suggested a Ford Ranger be purchased instead of an F-150, but the chiefs replied it was too small for what was needed, and the cost of a new Ranger was not significantly lower than the offer from Sullivan Ford on the full-size pickup.

“Is it the color we want, or are we going to spend thousands to wrap it?” Henning asked the chief.

“It is the color we want, yes,” Collins answered.

Mayor Cox called for a motion, second and vote, and the purchase was approved 4-2. Henning and Spiller voted “against,” Underwood was absent, and the remaining votes were “for” — Ward 1 Alderman James Magee Jr., Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore (via phone), Ward 3 Alderman Charles Caston Sr., and Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice.