According to Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose, compared to cities that are similar in size to Meridian, police in the Queen City are paid considerably lower.
"Looking at the average of the five cities that I compared Meridian with, the starting salary is like $16.04 an hour where ours is somewhere near $11.90," says Dubose. "So, we have a significant difference there."
Chief Duobse goes on to say that the pay gap for higher ranking officers who work with the Meridian Police Department is even lower when compared to officers who have the same rank in other cities that are like Meridian. This is why he says it's difficult for his department to maintain officers. In an effort to ultimately address this problem, Chief Dubose says the city council has asked him to explore ways to address the problem in phases.
"They asked me to go back and look at ways to sort of slide into it,"says Chief Dubose. "It's going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 to get what we want, and I don't think that the city is prepared to spend that kind of money right now for one department as far as salaries are concerned. We're looking at a way to gradually move into that $16 an hour range maybe over a year, or a year-and-a-half or so."
As part of next year's budget, Chief Dubose is asking the city council for money to upgrade technology within the department, and to address other equipment, vehicle and animal control needs.
With the new budget year set to start October 1st, the city council has until September 30th to approve a new budget. This leaves Chief Dubose from now until the end of September to present his budget proposal to the council.