By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
According to Randall Davis, acting chief for the Marion Police Department, policing is not about how many tickets the police force can write or how many arrests they can make.
On the contrary, policing, Davis said, is about serving the community in all facets of law enforcement work. Davis said it is equally important for a police officer to be a trusted member of the community as well as someone who protects the populace from criminals.
"We want to 'carry it forward' to use a term often repeated," Davis said. "We want to be a positive impact to the people in the community, namely the young people. We want to show them how crime is not a way of life but rather a way to jail."
Davis has a good mix of officers who make up the 12-man force. He said the key to the force's strength is the experience of its officers. Davis said the force has been blessed to hire officers who have had extensive training with other law enforcement agencies. This solves several problems facing many agencies. First, the experienced officer does not require field training like a rookie just out of the academy. Secondly, Davis is confident the officer is competent due to his service at another agency.
"We have been blessed in securing the services of officers from the Meridian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department," Davis said. "We know these officers are willing and able to do the job we ask of them and that the public expects."
Another plus to a small force is the fact all of the officers are familiar with each other and the way they do their jobs. Davis said it goes beyond that in the sense the officers know each other away from the job. He said that brings the force even closer.
"We know each others families, birthdays, and we try to spend holidays together," Davis said. "We know each other pretty well."
The icing on the cake, in terms of the quality of the officers, is that Davis has included in his force K-9 trained officers and those who have extensive experience in the DARE program that helps high school students learn about saying no to drugs and alcohol abuse.
But Davis will be the first to tell you a police force, no matter how good a team they were, is not doing fulfilling their obligation to serve and protect unless they have the support of the community in which they work.
"The public can be our ally," said Davis. "They are a strength for our department and we want to work with them to protect their homes and families."