The Laurel Police Department swore in three new officers Friday as part of its ongoing effort to fill vacancies made last year.

Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee swore in William Hemby, Justin Clifton and Timothy Daughdrill in a small ceremony at City Hall. The three are excellent recruits, Chief Tommy Cox said, and have a combined 33 years of law enforcement experience. Clifton is returning to the LPD after a stint at the Gulfport Police Department and served in the U.S. Marine Corps; Hemby comes from the Brookhaven Police Department. Daughdrill also comes from the Brookhaven Police Department and has served 24 years as a lawman.

“When you get guys that have been out there and already been trained, for the most part, it’s just a plus for the department,” Cox said.

Cox is putting the word out for new applicants at the department. This year, the city will be changing initial testing by having tests at more regular intervals — roughly once per quarter, or four times per year. This will give the department a running list of applicants, Cox said. Before, the test was given only one or two times each year, meaning applicants would often have to wait several months before stepping foot into a training academy. The next test is Feb. 6, and the due date for applications is Feb. 3.

“My hope is that we’ll have a larger pool of applicants to pull from,” Cox said. “There will be another test in April. The fire department is doing the same, and they’ll be giving tests on the same days.”

The process begins with this initial test, the Civil Service Exam. It’s more of an aptitude test, Cox said, so there’s not much studying to be done. Applicants will undergo physical testing and an interview.

Newly hired candidates will then be given a chance to have a leg up when they enter the police academy at Camp Shelby. The LPD provides a pre-academy training program that gives recruits all the tools they need to graduate before their education begins.

“We know they can pass when they show up and walk through the door,” Cox said. “When I went to the academy, I didn’t have the benefit of this type of training, and I struggled.”

Officers Bill Sparrow and David Grasha drill recruits with firearms training and physical training.

“We want to give them what they need to graduate the academy,” Cox said.


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