Hattiesburg approves police budget, spending for new body cameras

Hattiesburg approves police budget, spending for new body cameras
Hattiesburg Police Department

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - City council passed the 2015-16 budget for the city of Hattiesburg, including a roughly $12.5 million budget for the police department.

Included in that operating budget is roughly $800,000 in capital requests, which is a 567 percent increase from 2014.

"We now have a new police chief, and I think he will manage the money differently," Hattiesburg Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden said.

The $800,000 earmarked as capital requests includes items needed for the department to operate.

Some of those include:
  • $373,400 for 10 patrol vehicles
  • $70,000 for 2 administration vehicles
  • $65,000 for 65 tasers

Another noteworthy amount of approved funding is the $180,000 for new body cameras, even though the city is still out over a $100,000 from the body camera purchase four years ago.

"I think that whatever the police department feels like they need at this point we really need to support it if we possibly can," Dryden said.

One question posed from the council deals with a clothing allowance for officers.

"I have asked about clothing allowances, I think that needs to be handled with a lot of discretion, the purpose is a good one and it needs to be used for those officers who move into a detective position and no longer have a uniform," Dryden said. "I think we need to do a good job of helping people feel safe right now, that's what they need to do and I think that is important."

The majority of the $12.5 million budget goes to personnel, with that total being roughly $10.5 million, which is a 10.1 percent percent increase from 2014.

Seven On Your Side reached out to the Hattiesburg Police Department multiple times regarding the budget.

Their response via email from Lt. Jon Traxler was "at this time we do not have any comment."

Other requests from the department that were not approved in the budget:

  • Interview system for detectives for $15,000
  • Update Swat/Tactical equipment for $50,000
  • 125 Glock handguns for $35,000
  • Six mobile tag readers for $60,000

The department also requested $250,000 for the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) but was only approved for $80,000.