By Bonnie Culverhouse
Both men vying for the Top Cop job in Minden talked strategy during a candidate forum Saturday at the 14th District Building in Minden.
Jared McIver and Larry Morris are running for Minden Chief of Police, a position held by Steve Cropper, who is retiring at the end of 2022.
For the past 26 years, McIver has been with the local sheriff’s department, Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries and, most recently, Minden Police Department.
“I’ve known I wanted to be in law enforcement since I was in school,” McIver said. “It’s because a law enforcement officer came to our school and interacted with us, setting an example.”
That is something McIver believes will help with public safety as it pertains to youth.
“We need to reach kids while their minds are moldable,” he said. “I’ve been going to the schools and trying to put law enforcement in a positive light with kids.”
Larry Morris Jr. has more than 18 years in law enforcement that span Minden Police Department, Webster Parish Sheriffs Office and Ruston Probation and Parole.
“I have different aspects of law enforcement that I bring to the city,” Morris said. “Finding the right people and training officers, getting our city on track is what will help crime.”
Pastor Royal Scott posed questions and scenarios to the candidates, including the fact that Minden’s crime rate is 63 percent higher than the national average.
“Violent crimes in Minden are 155 percent higher than the national average,” he added. “You have a one in 27 chance of becoming a victim of crime.”
He went on to ask candidates what they feel is the biggest challenge in deterring violent crime in Minden.
“Changing the intent of the heart,” McIver said. “When people have intent to hurt somebody, that’s what they are going to set out to do. We need to reach our youth at a young age and convince them there are other things out there besides crime.
“They need to look at police more as heroes instead of villains,” he added. He would do that by getting with community leaders to find activities for youth.
Morris said he will present a plan for youth-oriented programs.
Minden’s Finest is a program that begins with 6th grade and goes through grade 12.
“It gives them other options, career-path wise,” Morris said. “I spearhead that program, going to schools, giving our youth a different avenue other than the Internet and what they see on TV.”
Morris said in his years of law enforcement he has never been sued or had problems because “I look like them (people), and they felt comfortable around me.”
McIver said most people don’t know the officers in the community.
“We are not communicating,” he said. “People won’t come forward when there’s been a crime because there’s no trust. We need to get personal with our community.”
Morris was asked about his position on the state transferring youth from juvenile facilities to a maximum security facility.
“Juveniles need to stay with juveniles,” Morris said. “Programs help if you catch them young and explain to them what comes with the actions you have committed. Let them know what’s out there and what will happen to them if they do something wrong.”
McIver pointed out that – at this time – it is unlawful to place juveniles in an adult prison, although juvenile detention centers are full.
“Juveniles have enough issues as it is and having an adult influence in a prison could only further their crime,” he said. “We need to reach them before we ever get there. They have enough problems as it is.”
Finally, Pastor Scott pointed out racial tension in the Minden Police Department. He then asked for each candidate’s position on hiring and promotional practices.
McIver said anyone regardless of race, gender and party lines will be considered, as long as they pass all Civil Service Requirements.
“When you have diversity in your police department, you have a complete police department,” he said. “You have different mindsets that can come together and bring different views to any situation and scenario.”
McIver said that as police chief, the first thing he would do is appoint a deputy chief.
“The person I would designate will be a female and an African American,” McIver said.
Morris said his understanding is that currently the Minden Police Department has three minority employees.
“That’s not good with a city of this size,” he said. “There needs to be a mixture of all types of officers, not just anyone to fill a slot.”
He said as police chief, he would not sit in the office or designate a person but would “personally go out and find good officers, go to our universities, high schools.”
He said an officer should be professional and humble, can do the job and understand the job.
“Not just someone who wants the job, but can do the job,” Morris said. “Law enforcement is for special people. I will mentor new officers and hold current officers accountable.”
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