One of the most important offices in the City of Minden is that of police chief. In an effort to educate the public, incumbent Steve Cropper and challenger Tim Morris sat down with the editorial staff of the Minden Press-Herald to answer questions concerning several aspects of the office.

Steve Cropper
Steve Cropper
Steve Cropper

What are the qualities of a good police chief?

Fair and firm would be my two words. I try to be fair to everyone when I can, but I also feel like I’ve stood firm when I needed to. I feel like those are the two most important qualities that a chief of police needs to have.

What is the most important crime issue in Minden today and how will you address it?

The biggest issue is illegal narcotics. It’s a never-ending battle. We have two full-time officers who do nothing but concentrate on the illegal sales and use of narcotics. The narcotics are what lead to the burglaries, thefts and just about everything else.

If reelected, what will you change about the Minden Police Department?

My big issue over the last four years has been getting good quality people and keeping them. I’m going to fight real hard for the next four years to get Minden up to the standard of cities that are basically the same size with the same number of officers, to get their salaries to the point where we can hire them and keep them. That’s been my biggest problem. I’ve hired a lot of good people and have lost a lot of good people. It’s the money. These officers are having a hard time paying their bills – especially a new officer with a family. They aren’t taking home any money to pay their bills and feed their families.

Do you have a plan in place for riot and shooter situations?

About two years ago, we put together what we call our SRT – Special Response Team – These guys train on their own time. They’ve trained at all the schools in Minden and learned the layout of all the schools, just in case we have an active shooter or a bad situation. They’ve trained in some of the public buildings, like the civic center, library, just to make themselves familiar with the layouts and the rooms. It’s a group of good guys. They work real hard at it. Because they have been training on their own time, I’d like to change that and at least compensate them somewhat for their training. They put in a lot of hours over a month, and it’s extra work where they are away from their families. I feel like they should be paid for it. Some of the guys we have lost in the last few months were on that team, so we’re a couple of men short, but we’re going to get some new guys trained.

What, if anything, can you do about the personnel drain in your department? Obviously, money would help. What would you recommend to the mayor and city council?

We’ve lost a lot of good people – some to other agencies, but we’ve lost some to the private sector. Being a police officer is something that is not for everyone. It’s kind of a special calling, and when you become a police officer, usually you stay a police officer. Once it gets in your blood, it pretty much stays in your blood. Those we’ve lost to other agencies has been because they can travel 20 minutes up the road and make six or seven thousand dollars more a year in a smaller community.

We have a council and mayor that will work with me. We were able to make some changes in our budget to get these officers a small pay increase starting the first of October when our new budget kicks in, but we’ve got to continue working on it. It’s going to help somewhat but it’s not going to fix the problem. In fact, we lost three (officers) because it wasn’t going to fix the problem, after they knew they were going to get the pay increase, because it just wasn’t enough money.

But I think we have a mayor and council that will work real hard with us. I’ve already talked with a couple of them, and they’ve got me doing some things to try and show the city and the council that it is something that’s got to be done. We’re just losing too many good people. I wish I could stress that enough. I wish I had every officer that I’ve hired still there. If I did, I’d have probably one of the best agencies in this part of the state. It’s something we fight every day.

Tim Morris
Tim Morris
Tim Morris

What are the qualities of a good police chief?

I think he should have character, show leadership to his men, moral integrity, honesty and should be available for his men whenever they call for help.

What is the most important crime issue in Minden today and how will you address it?

We are still fighting a war with illegal narcotics. It’s not as open and wide spread as it was in the first part of my career, but here in Minden, it is still in existence. If elected, I am going to continue that fight.

If elected, what will you change about the Minden Police Department?

Officer morale: they do need compensation where raises are concerned. With council approval, I have other ideas that will enhance our ability to keep those officers with Minden PD, instead of having that continued revolving door they always have. One of the biggest things I hear is that the people want to see their chief more during his term in office instead of just election time. I plan to have quarterly meetings in the community and involve the officers as well so they can recognize members of our community.
Do you have a plan in place for riot and shooter situations?

I would have to be elected to assess the regs of the department, but all officers should be trained in active shooter training by now. If not, I will seek that for every officer. I’m trained in active shooter. That’s something that has to be done every year. There will be a plan put in place, but I will have to be elected before I can initiate that.

What, if anything, can you do about the personnel drain in your department? Obviously, money would help. What would you recommend to the mayor and city council?

I have several suggestions that I believe with cooperation with the mayor and council, we can achieve a lot of things quickly. I believe we only have three or four police department retirees living in Minden. One thing they might consider for all the city is paying at least the premium for the employee’s medical insurance. That right there, would help out in their monthly income. If they couldn’t give a significant pay raise, maybe they would consider taking that over.

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