Carmen K. Sisson & Garthia Elena Burnett
August 11, 2011 11:31:00 AM
Change is afoot at the Columbus Police Department, with four longtime veterans being reassigned to the patrol division and another being assigned additional duties, in an effort to put experience back on the streets.
Interim Police Chief Selvain McQueen said the department is shorthanded and relatively young, forcing a reallocation of resources to ensure better public safety. Currently, 75 percent of the department''s 69 officers have less than seven years of experience. Approximately six officers have been with the department less than a year.
For that reason, McQueen feels it will be beneficial to put people like Capt. Fred Shelton, who has 31 years of experience, back on duty as shift leaders or in other supervisory roles within the patrol division.
Shelton has been with the police department for 27 years, working in patrol, as a shift leader and commander of administration and training. When Shelton went to Afghanistan for one year in 2008, he returned as leader of community policing.
Community policing involves coordinating neighborhood watches and community events such as Night Out Against Crime.
"I have no problem with it," Shelton said of the changes. "I believe I''ll be able to have a positive impact on the patrol division and get them to respond to calls a little more promptly and help it run more effectively."
In his near three decades at the police department, Shelton has been under the leadership of six different department heads, with six different ways of organizing it.
"Regardless of the changes that happen at the police department, the primary mission still remains the same -- to protect and serve the people here in the city of Columbus," he said.
Sgt. Rick Jones, who has been with the department for 28 years, agreed. He said he would go where he is needed, as he has in the past.
For about a year, Jones has had mainly administrative duties, conducting background investigations, overseeing animal control for city and county and working with the street-crime suppression division and the youth police program, Explorers.
Jones has spent the bulk of his time with the police department as an investigator and later with the narcotics division. He will be going back to shift supervising.
"I''m just going where I need to be going, wherever they need me," Jones said.
"I don''t know what all changes the interim chief is doing, so I don''t know what the impact''s gonna be," he admitted.
McQueen said he also is back on the streets. Last week, he responded to a call about a loud music disturbance because he was near the scene when he heard it on the scanner.
"I am constantly out," McQueen said. "I''m out at all times of the night and early in the morning."
Reassignments will be effective Monday morning. Besides Shelton and Jones, other officers being reassigned are Lt. Jeff Guyton, who has 21 years with the CPD, and Sgt. James Grant, with 14 years.
Assistant Chief Joe Johnson, who has been with the department 37 years and heads the patrol division, will be taking on additional patrol duties, McQueen said.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.
2. Photo: Hwy. 45 wreck COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Railroad co. investigating derailment in Columbus COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Man arrested after close call with school bus STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY