April 5, 2014 8:20:42 PM
Starkville Police Department is close to opening its second of four planned precinct substations after the city approved a revised, rent-free lease for such a location on Louisville Street Tuesday.
Police will use the rent-free facility, located at Amos and Miller Management LLC-owned 1200 Louisville Apartments, for at least a year to take and file reports in the field and provide a SPD presence in an area with a high crime rate, Chief Frank Nichols said Tuesday.
Aldermen approved the lease, which waives $5,700 in rent, with minor adjustments through memo that must be acknowledged and accepted by the property's owner.
SPD formally opened its first substation, located at 151 Alfred Perkins St., on Feb. 28. The facility, donated by the Starkville Housing Authority, will also serve as a home to the department's Community Oriented Policing division. Giving residents a place to file criminal reports near their own neighborhoods negates a trip to SPD headquarters on Lampkin Street.
"These precincts will give a higher sense of security and quicker response times," Nichols said before the first substation's opening. "We've been absolutely welcomed in the area."
Nichols called for the establishment of four SPD substations during his February job interview for police chief. SPD would seek land donations or rent-free leases to help curb the costs of such facilities, he said.
The 22-year SPD veteran also called for the addition of 10 new officer positions within the next eight years during his job interview to help serve the city's growing population. Pay raises and adjustments for numerous employees, including dispatchers and animal control officers, were also on Nichols' to-do list.
The board previously approved an almost three-month leave for Nichols to attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. In his absence, Assistant Chief John C. Thomas, a 25-year SPD veteran, will lead the department and focus on training efforts.
The city promoted nine officers Friday -- slots for two captains, three lieutenants and four sergeants were filled -- in one of SPD's largest personnel moves to date.
Twenty-one-year SPD veteran Troy Outlaw and Mark Ballard, who joined the force in 1996, were promoted to the department's two captain positions, while Mike Edwards, Steve Lyle and Tom Roberson filled three of the city's four lieutenant spots. Freddie Bardley, George Coleman, Wesley Koehn and Kenny Watkins were all promoted to sergeant.
A SPD seniority list obtained by The Dispatch shows the department has 27 officers -- about half of the police force -- with five or fewer local service years.
Both Nichols and Thomas said the relatively young SPD staff is more than capable of policing the city and providing effective community outreach.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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