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Department of Public Safety requests budget increases to improve staffing and pay

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 8:50 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state budget won’t get all the details ironed out until later in the legislative session. But state agencies are putting their wish lists out in the open on the front end.

A lot of the money DPS is requesting from the legislature involves upping pay for various positions and making them more competitive. Among those... troopers.

“We want to get up to $50,000 starting pay,” explained Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell. “We felt like that’s not only competitive with our neighboring states and what they’re offering, but also multiple jurisdictions within the state cities are starting their officers off at $50,000. So, we need that to be able to attract good folks into law enforcement.”

Tindell says pay puts them at a disadvantage for staffing the crime lab, too.

“One of the things we compete with at the crime lab is we’re trying to hire scientists,” described Tindell. “They come out of college, they can be a scientist at the crime lab and start off at 30. Or they can be a teacher making 39. And so often, they choose that profession instead of coming and being a scientist at the crime lab, we need to be able to fill those positions and pay those folks equivalent to what they can make if they chose to be a teacher.”

They hit a milestone in the last year of not having any bodies waiting for an autopsy. But the backlog of reports still exists. Out of state doctors are being contracted to help get the number down.

“We do have a backlog that dated back to 2011,” noted Tindell. “We anticipate that by the end of this quarter, we will be caught up to about 2015 or ‘16 on that backlog.”

But staffing wise, they’re still looking at more ways to lessen the load.

“I’m constantly recruiting medical examiner’s. Right now we’ve got three at the Emmys office. I think I’ve got a fourth one coming in in April to start. If we can get one more after that, I would like to place that person at a North Mississippi Medical Examiner’s Office.”

Questions of security in and around the Capitol were also brought up in that hearing. DPS would like to do a threat assessment and use that to potentially make some changes, like secure parking for lawmakers.

One member found a bullet at the back of his truck that was parked outside Tuesday.

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