Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols, left, talks with Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Athletic Director Cheyenne Trussell after speaking to Starkville Rotarians at the Starkville Country Club Monday. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
March 6, 2018 11:18:31 AM
Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols wants a larger police force.
That's the message he gave the Starkville Rotary Club at its weekly meeting Monday during a "state of the police department" address. Nichols, who has worked for Starkville Police Department since 1992 and was appointed chief in 2014, said the growth of Mississippi State University and the greater Starkville area, along with talk of annexation, means more work for his department.
"Starkville's getting bigger, and so is the university," he said. "So with that being said, the police department has to get bigger too."
Currently the department has 60 full-time officers, though Nichols said five new officers will be introduced at Starkville's board of aldermen meeting tonight. That will put the department two officers short of its budgeted 67.
He added that, like other police departments around the state, SPD has trouble recruiting and especially retaining younger officers, who move from department to department.
"It's just the generation, a lot of it," Nichols said. "They'll go to a whole other different place for a dime more and not look at the benefits there. ... We try to coach them to realize you've got to take pride in where you are. There's no more of that.
"I was told if somebody gave you a chance to do something, that you take pride in doing it," he added. "... I don't believe in jumping around from department to department. But that's not this generation."
He said he will make sure SPD hires professional officers with an interest in the community and a passion for law enforcement and brought up a January shooting at Walmart, in which a woman was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, as an example. The suspect, 41-year-old Tommy Chisholm, of Kosciusko, was arrested in the parking lot.
"I didn't have a problem getting people down there, having officers come down there on a Saturday morning," Nichols said.
The reason for that, he said, is those officers want to protect Starkville because they care about their jobs and care about their community.
"We can't always stop what people are going to do, but if you notice one thing, we solved the crime," he said. "We solved the crime. And I contribute that to professionals."
Nichols said officers are focusing more on patrolling neighborhoods and less on traffic violations. He said last year, SPD officers performed more than 9,000 "security checks" in individual neighborhoods, compared to the roughly 2,000 security checks the year before.
"We want to be in the neighborhoods," Nichols said. "If somebody's out there speeding, acting a fool, then yeah we're going to stop them. But we're not going to be sitting ... by the highway at 2 a.m. trying to catch a speeder. We're going to be patrolling your neighborhoods. ... I would rather keep you safe while you're sleeping than be out there writing a ticket."
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