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East wants more Oxford Police Department officers

By Reid Posey

news@oxfordeagle.com

In a town like Oxford that’s growing at such an unprecedented rate, the men and women charged with keeping us safe sometimes need a little extra help to keep up.

At Thursday’s budget meeting with the Board of Aldermen, Oxford Police Chief Joey East, presented the Oxford Police Department’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which included several measures designed to continue the force’s growth and improvement across the board.

One of the most notable requests made by East in his budget was $133,000 for four new officers as well as a new code enforcement officer.

East presented the Board with a budget that did not take into account pending grants that will possibly come through to help offset these costs, instead showing them what it would look like should this money come from the 2 percent food and beverage tax fund. East said that if they do end up receiving grant money, that it could save the city around $119,000.

East also said that there would be an increase on the city’s part for the Metro Narcotics Unit, which also receives contributions from both the county and the University of Mississippi.

East said that although the majority of this increase was tied to certain salaries being “out of proportion,” the increase also will go toward areas such as training, the crime lab, and computer upgrades.

East also pointed out that the $60,000 increase for operating supplies is largely tied to their $53,500 request for an in-car mobile data system for their patrol cars. East said that law enforcement is trending more and more toward these systems because it allows officers to do everything from their patrol car instead of reporting back to the police station. Cutting out this step, according to East, will allow for a higher presence of officers around town and, therefore, will also cut down on response times.

East said that the additional money will go toward more body cameras for their officers.

East also discussed the possibility of conducting a space needs analysis for the department. This type of study will project the growth of the police department over the next 15 to 20 years, particularly in the context of the growing community surrounding it, and will let the department know what kind of physical space they will need moving forward.

All in all, East projected a total budget increase from last year’s mark of $5.79 million to around $6.16 million for the upcoming fiscal year, a difference of around $373,000.

Parking Division

Also presenting their proposed budget for the upcoming year was the Parking Division, led by Director Matt Davis.

The most significant measure pointed out by Davis was an $11,000 increase to maintenance and repair that will go toward both replacing batteries on the Square’s parking meters as well as providing for repairs that could not be taken care of in-house.

Davis said that he has to order 25 new batteries a month for a total of around $725 per month. Because there is only one company that makes the type of battery required for the parking meters on the Square, Davis said that they are locked into whatever prices they get from the company.

Overall, the proposed Parking Division budget will see an increase of only 5 percent from the previous year, a difference of less than $17,000.