Public safety concerns have been raised over McMinnville Police Department being overworked, understaffed, and poorly paid.
“I do feel in order to serve our community better, given how busy we are answering calls for service, we could use more staff,” said Police Chief Nichole Mosley. “A big concern is retention and hiring. Our department is underpaid comparable to other agencies our size surrounding us. We must be able to keep the officers we have as well.”
Mosley’s statement came after Board of Mayor and Aldermen members openly admitted the Police Department is overworked, understaffed and poorly paid.
“With the situation that we had on Post Road and now Spring Street, I believe those are symptoms of a larger problem,” said Alderman Stacey Harvey. “I think that’s a symptom of an overworked and understaffed police force. We need more police officers on the streets. We need them properly equipped and properly trained.”
City government will have $4 million in ARP funds it must spend by the end of 2022. Harvey suggested a portion of that should be allocated to purchase equipment, provide training and increase personnel within the city’s emergency response departments – police and fire.
“I don’t care who you are, if you pick up the phone and call 911, you expect a response,” Harvey said. “Some of the vehicles that we have and some of the call volume that we have and some of the speeding issues that we have are directly related to the number of calls received verses how much traffic enforcement they can take.”
In 2021, the police department received 21,671 calls for service, an average of 59 calls per day. The department has 37 sworn officers, which includes administrative staff.
“We have two vacancies,” said Mosley. “We are slotted for 38. We have two on light duty and one in the academy.”
Vice Mayor Everett Brock, city Finance Committee chair, said officers are poorly paid.
“The reason we can’t fill all our police officer and firemen positions is because they are grossly underpaid,” Brock said. “That’s one of the things that we are going to have to address. I’ve already talked to Mr. (Nolan) Ming about that. We’ll have to address it within the budget process.”
McMinnville government’s 2022-23 fiscal year begins July 1. Prior to that, proposed departmental budgets must be submitted, reviewed and approved.
“Murfreesboro officers are making $4 to $5 more an hour,” said Alderman Zach Sutton. “It’s 45 minutes away. I would make that commute any day of the week. We need to be competitive with cities like Murfreesboro and other areas.”
Starting pay for an uncertified officer is $16.37 per hour.