July 22, 2013 9:38:42 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Sturgis will soon hire a new police chief, assistant chief and officer to recently vacated, part-time positions, Mayor Walter Turner confirmed Friday.
A special meeting is expected on July 29, Turner said, to deal with at least the department head's hiring. The incoming police chief will have a hand in hiring Sturgis Police Department's other two officers.
After the town's new board of aldermen declined to reappoint Police Chief Will Hutchinson earlier this month, its entire three-person police department separately tendered their resignations. Those personnel moves left the city without its own police coverage.
City leaders have not elaborated on the reasoning behind Hutchinson's termination, but Turner said the three officers' employment was secure before they resigned.
Sturgis is in a working agreement with the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services, but state law requires the city to employ a police chief.
Turner previously said at least five people have shown interest in the police chief's position.
"When you have a clean slate, it's a good time to look at everything," he said in reference to aldermen's restructuring of the police department. "We'll hire a chief first so he or she can have time to get in and get his or her feet on the ground. I'd hate to go into a new job like that without having some kind of say (about the hiring process)."
Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney said patrols through Sturgis have increased since Turner reached out and informed him of the situation.
"We're providing as much assistance as we can. We can't keep someone there around the clock, but we stay down there as much as we can," he said last week. "We've always had a good working relationship with the town and its residents. We'll back them up whenever they need just like they've done for my deputies."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch