Our thanks to City of Hattiesburg Chief of Police, Anthony Parker,
for providing our program last Tuesday.
L-R: Club President, Paula Brahan; Chief Anthony Parker,
and City of Hattiesburg CCO, Samantha McCain.
President Paula Brahan presided over today’s meeting. Gene Owens gave today’s invocation and Wes Brooks led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mike Ratliff served as our greeter today. He encouraged members to visit the website and sign up for these volunteer positions.
Mike then introduced today’s visiting Rotarians and guests. Erin Granberry has Tom Chaffin, a visiting Rotarian from Colorado as her guest. Paul Brahan has Holly Wicktom as her guest.
Greg Garraway was the winner of the card draw today.
Maura McLaughlin reported plans about the 100th Rotary Birthday Celebration. The event will be held on Tuesday evening, October 23. There will be no lunch meeting that day. The venue is likely to be Southern Oaks but two others are under consideration. The organizing committee would like to see 100 percent participation of our club. Tickets will be sold for $25 each. The Sunrise and Petal clubs will also be invited to join us.
Samantha McCain then introduced today’s guest speaker, Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker. Chief Parker graduated from USM where he was a scholar and a football player. He played Canadian professional football until he suffered a career-ending injury.
He became a Mississippi State Trooper in 1982. He retired from the Patrol in 2009 and then worked as a patrolman with the Crystal Springs Police Department. He was appointed Chief of that department in 2013 and was then tabbed to be the Hattiesburg Police Chief. He has thirty-three years of law enforcement experience.
Chief Parker said thanks to Mayor Toby Barker and the Hattiesburg City Council for supporting a pay realignment for the police officers. He says this change gives officers the chance to plan their future and has reduced the number of officers who were leaving the department. There have been no resignations in the last four months.
A new Officers Patrol School will begin in mid-May. Twenty-two candidates are currently enrolled. Parker says he has a goal of having 107 patrol officers on the streets by September. The department also has forty-seven civilian and fifteen part-time employees.
Chief Parker highlighted some of the “other” duties and services conducted through the department. The Community Involvement Department tries to keep the department’s work in front of citizens including area school students. The Victim Advocate Department works with victims and families affected by crimes, helping them in a variety of ways. The Bike Patrol Unit will be back on the streets in neighborhoods in the near future. The department also has a Records Division, a Criminal Investigation Division and Animal Control.
Chief Parker says the new body cameras are helping the department as well as the citizens. Civilian complaints have been reduced by 88 percent since officers began wearing the cameras. The use of force has also decreased 66 percent.
The department also has a new License Plate Reader. This tool has helped in the recovery of seventeen stolen vehicles and the arrest of six criminals. The department also uses a Bait Car that they can control if or when a criminal attempts to steal it. The tool has helped catch nine criminals who were breaking into vehicles.
A big goal of the Chief is to have officers into neighborhood more. He says that is the best tool he has for crime prevention.
A number of activities and events are planned for the week of May 13 – 19 which is Police Memorial Week. A new Officer Dean and Officer Tate memorial will be unveiled in the very near future.  You can get full details on all of these events by following the department’s Facebook page.
If you need to contact the Chief he can be emailed at alparker@hattiesburgms.com or you can call him at 601-545-4900. He urged Rotarians to only use 911 in the event of an emergency. All other calls can be directed to 545-4910 through 545-4913. You can also call the city’s Action Line at 601-545-4500.
With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned by Paula with our motto, “Service Above Self.”