By Paige Nash
City of Minden Chief of Police candidates Jared McIver and Larry Morris, both lifelong residents of Minden, share previous experience in law enforcement. Both have served at the Minden Police Department and Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, with most of McIver’s experience coming from his time at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division (LDWF). Morris has served at the Ruston City Court Probation Department and Ruston Police Department.
Both were present at the forum hosted by the Greater Minden Chamber and the Northwest Technical Community College this past Monday, October 17.
The candidates were met with challenging questions regarding funding, the uptick in juvenile crime, active shooter scenarios, funding, training and implementation.
After giving their opening statements the hopefuls were asked what major factor led them to run for this position and why they believed they were the best candidate for the job.
McIver said, “I have a heartfelt, sincere reason for why I am running for police chief. Two years ago, I started going by MPD and knew I was getting close to being able to retire from LDWF and began talking to the men and women there and talking to the people in the public. I knew Chief Cropper was getting close to retiring and I knew that because of the experience that I have, the background that I have and the years of service that I have, I could bring all that to the MPD and make it best department and continue building on the foundation that is already laid there.”
Morris said, “I think that I am the best fit for it because I am from Minden. I am Minden. Being from Minden, you don’t have to ask a lot of questions because you experience it. As a teenager you experience the good and bad of Minden. As a law enforcement officer, you see it on both sides. With that opportunity at MPD – working – I got to meet new people that I didn’t know and possibly didn’t know me and I got to hear their concerns. I got to build relationships and I still have a lot of relationships with people here in Minden. I am different, but just because I am different doesn’t mean that I can’t step in and fix the issues that we have.”
When asked what they believed were the top three issues that needed to be addressed upon being elected, they each shared their extensive plans.
McIver said, “Mine is a four-part answer to a three-part question. I believe that innovation, unification, preparation and personalization are the four key points we need to do once we get in there. First off all we need to start reestablishing relationships across the city with our police and the community. When crimes happen, we ask for the trust of the community without the relationship, and we must have a relationship first. Then trust comes second.”
Morris said, “First thing is our gun violence and gang violence. I hate to make it seem like it’s two parts, but it’s two parts together, pretty much the same. It’s coming from one area, so we have to address that. I have a 5-point plan I want to present. Within that 5-point plan I want to focus on gun violence, mental health issues, gang violence, burglaries and illegal drugs. We start working on that and get that under control, our crime rate will come down. Next, I want to work on the morale in our department. I am going to be a fair chief. I am going to follow the rules.”
The MPD is currently experiencing an issue with understaffing, which in turn has caused low morale and burnout within the department. Each candidate was asked about their plans to correct this matter and how they intend to recruit new officers and retain the ones currently serving.
McIver said, “Morale starts at the top. That’s where it starts. The men and women that are at the MPD now, I have worked with them for the last 10 months, I sacrificed my time. I work nights and weekends with the MPD because I believe you should lead by example. I get out in the trenches with the ladies and gentlemen of MPD. We have been making a lot of drug arrests and different things. That is motivating our officers to be more proactive. No one goes into law enforcement to make money. It’s a thankless job. But it’s a job you go into to make a sincere difference. We are going to try to get the most qualified and if they are not qualified, we will get them trained to be the most qualified to patrol our streets and investigate our crimes here in the city of Minden.”
Morris said, “Incentive pay. One thing I want to present to the mayor and the city council is having ‘take home’ units for any officer that is post certified and has lived in the city limits for at least one year. Another thing I want to present to the mayor and city council is incentive pay for fitness and for education. If you have a higher education and a degree, we should give you incentive pay. That will bring some professional officers to our city. Minden is a good place to live but again you have to draw in good professionals and stop settling for whatever you can get. I am going to be a recruiter.”
The candidates were met with many other challenging questions regarding funding, juvenile crime, active shooter scenarios, funding, training and implementation.
Each candidate had one minute to make their final remarks and lasting impressions on the audience in attendance and those viewing at home.
McIver said, “Minden is a great place where we hear a lot of negative talk, but I am going to give you the positive of it. It’s one of the most generous, kind, loving places I have been. We give more than anyone I have ever seen. When St. Jude comes around, we gather and raise money like no other place. Yes, we have crime and negative things, but the positive outweighs the negative. We are going to continue to keep our city safe. Whatever resources are out there and available, we are going to use those to make our city safe. I believe in our flag; I believe in the cross and I believe in my faith, and I believe that I share that with most people in this room. I believe that together we are going to be able to make Minden the greatest city, the safest city and a city that you can be proud of.”
Morris said, “Minden is at a turning point. Our crime rate is increasing. We have to do something that’s going to fix that. If we sit back and let things keep going the way that they are going and don’t address the issues, and there are some hard issues, some things that we do not want to talk about because it makes us all uncomfortable, but we have to come together as a community to sit down and address those issues. I am dedicated to this city. I am from this city, and I love this city. I have raised young men and am still raising a young man in this city. This city is a great place to live but we have to sit down and address those issues that a lot of people don’t like to address. Minden is one city, and we have to come together as one city.”
Early voting kicks off next week on October 25 through November 1 at the registrar’s office located in the Webster Parish Courthouse. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.