By Bonnie Culverhouse
A new city/community task force, designed to address safety ordinances and police and fire pay is off to a good start.
Minden Mayor Terry Gardner invited several persons to meet Monday morning, following the request of District A Councilman Wayne Edwards during a council meeting Thursday.
“Mr. Edwards thought, and I agree, that we needed to get community leaders together to look at these ordinances,” Gardner said. “We will look at these ordinances, as well as other things throughout our tenure here.
Representing the council on the Safety Initiative Program (SIP) are District A, Larry Gibson; District B will be Mack Jones, who was out of town and could not attend; John Bradford for District C, Annette Blake – wife of a former police officer – for District D and Mike Harper filled the slot for District E.
Also attending were Jason Smith, President of the Minden Police Association, Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper and Adam Bradley, representing the fire department.
The ordinances address juvenile curfews and permits for gatherings at city parks.
Some members asked how a juvenile curfew ordinance would be beneficial.
“A lot of the people on the streets committing these crimes are between 15 and 22 years old,” Smith, who is also a Minden Police officer, said.
One of the main ideas behind the ordinance would be to make parents accountable for their children’s whereabouts, especially during the hours of the curfew – from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and midnight to 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
It was agreed that better pay for police will help with crime.
“What we are to our police and fire departments is a training ground,” Gardner said. “We bring them in, we train them, bring them back here and they go off somewhere else. Once we invest in our employees, we want them to be happy with their job and stay here.”
Smith pointed out that there are three to four officers on the streets per shift.
“Right now,” Smith said, during the 10 a.m. meeting, “there is one officer patrolling the streets.”
“Our community is in bad shape, as far as I’m concerned,” Police Chief Steve Cropper said. “If I could pull back every officer I have lost to agencies with better pay, and add them to what I have now, we’d have a fantastic department.”
Starting police officers earn $13.75 per hour.
Also, discussed was fire pay. Minden’s fire department is operating shorthanded for the same reason as police.
Adam Bradley said a starting firefighter earns $8.85 per hour and must wait until an assistant fire chief or captain retires before they can move up the ladder and earn more money.
Smith handed out copies of the ordinances for the commission to study, adding “there is no ‘race’ written into these.”
SIP will reconvene September 9 at 9 a.m.
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