JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Jackson has a police officer shortage and has had one for years. Now officers may be calling out sick to protest internal issues.
They’re calling it the “Blue Flu” with low salaries at the heart of it. JPD leaders deny that is behind the absences that happened Tuesday.
What we know is Tuesday morning 15-20 officers across four precincts and two divisions called out of work. Community activists say it was a unified effort.
The mayor’s office is hopeful raises which are in the city’s next budget will be a turning point for upset JPD officers.
“Blue Flu is in effect here at JPD and throughout the capital city,” community activist Napoleon Edwards said outside Jackson Police Headquarters.
“The last meeting council had to give incoming officers an increase and refuse to give veteran officers the same increase,” Edwards added. “Council president Banks manipulated it by saying its a pay raise.”
Jackson Police Cheif James Davis released a statement denying any of these actions saying in part “to speculate any officer that did not report to work as a result of working conditions or pay raises is without facts and evidence. The fact that we had several officers out today is purely coincidental.”
The mayor however openly disagreed with the officers’ actions despite the chief’s denial that blue flu tied into it.
“I’m disappointed in those officers that chose to take this route instead of doing what we’re talking about,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said at the city council meeting. “Because a lot of it has been a misunderstanding. I’ve heard officers talk about people coming in making more money than they’re making. Not true.”
Executive staff for JPD at the meeting assured the absences had no impact on how they patrolled each precinct.
“We have about 15-20 that called in on today and it ranged from precincts to support services and our detective bureau,” Assistant Police Chief Joseph Wade said. “We have 300 police officers so it has not impacted the way we do business.”
Under the new city budget as of Oct 1. the starting salary for first-year JPD officers will be $30,000 then increase by $1,000 after a year. Then go up to $33,000 after three years and $35,000 after five. 10 Year veterans will make $37,000.
This raise does put Jackson ahead of first-year salaries for officers in Ridgeland, Byram, Clinton, and Pearl. But still comes in behind Jackson State who starts out at $32,500 and State Capitol Police paying rookies $32,000 a year.
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