City Board approves police department training, hiring

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen approved some employee changes and training for the Police Department Tuesday, though not without some tension.

The PD requested a 2023 Ford F-150 XL — the purchase of which was approved at the prior board meeting — be an unmarked vehicle for the department. Alderman-at-large Don Underwood voiced opposition, saying he thought the vehicle should at least be marked as city-owned, and questioning the need for the truck to be unmarked.

“We do a whole lot of investigating. We do a whole lot of undercover stuff that you may not be privy to,” Police Chief Kenneth Collins said.

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“So, nobody’s going to know that (Assistant Chief) Clint Earls is going to be riding around in the four-wheel-drive F-150?” Underwood asked.

“When he cuts the blue lights on, they’ll know,” Collins replied.

The board voted 5 in favor, with Underwood voting no, and Ward 6 Alderman Andre’ Spiller abstaining.

As the board considered approving Certified Investigator Program training for Master Sgt. Jonathan Hart — at a cost of $1,400 and meal reimbursement — several aldermen asked Hart to explain what the training entailed and why it was needed.

Hart said the CIP training was a 380-hour course over the period of eight months (Jan. 14-Aug. 22, 2024), one week at a time, that provides in-depth training for police investigators.

Hart explained that although he had been promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant earlier this year, and given the title of investigator, his pay had not increased and he had not yet received the CIP training all BPD investigators undergo.

Collins said he implemented the training as a requirement when he first became police chief, and most agencies across the state are beginning to require the same.

The board voted unanimously in support of the request.


Raise suggestion, employee changes

Underwood proposed the City raise the pay for all police patrol officers, in an effort to move closer to what other municipalities are offering. If approved, the raises would be $500 per non-certified patrol officer, and $1,500 for each certified patrol officer — raising annual salaries to the range of $38,500 to $50,000.

The raises still would not get Brookhaven up to what cities like Magee are offering — $49,000 to $54,000 — even though Magee is a smaller municipality, Underwood said.

“It’s not enough, but what I think we can afford to do,” the alderman said. “We’re competing against everybody to get them and hang on to them. I’m with the chief on that.”

The board approved the raises with no opposition.

The board also approved the resignation of patrolman Bradley McCoy, whom Collins said had moved to another agency; and a salary increase from $33,750 to $37,000 for Jakarius Reid, moving from non-certified to certified full-time patrolman.

Former Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office investigator Leslie Falvey was also hired as a Sergeant Detective at a salary of $53,750, pending drug test, physical and background check. The vote for Falvey was 5-2, with Underwood and Spiller voting no.