“If you do not do this you will continue to lose people,” Nelson said. “You lost nine people last year.”
That number does not include Officer Brooks Barleston, who passed away in March after an illness.
Nelson said ideally the department would have a police chief, and four captains working directly under that chief who would run the department’s different divisions (patrol, detectives, administration, and ABC).
Nelson emphasized that any councilor’s issues with him don’t need to stand in the way of paying the department’s officers as he thinks they should be paid.
“I’ve got to fight for my men, and you all can’t blame me for that,” Nelson said. “If I’m the hang up here, you can call me whatever you want to call me. That’s a title, it don’t amount to a hill of beans. ... Don’t let that hang you up.
“I think I’m the hang up and I don’t need to be the hang up here,” Nelson added.
Nelson’s message seemed to be heard loud and clear.
“You’re the department head,” said Councilor Tom Eastham. “You’re the professional, I’m not, when it comes to the police department.
“We’re here to listen to your needs,” Tom Eastham continued. “It doesn’t matter that the other departments are needing money, if there’s a recruitment issue, then that becomes a priority. If you’re short-handed, we need to address that.”
Councilor Jimmy Eastham echoed those thoughts, and suggested that Nelson prepare an ideal restructuring of the department to bring back to city council during another workshop meeting.
“It’s pretty evident we have a need in the police department,” Jimmy Eastham said.