Among the goals of the new Philadelphia Police Chief are to curtail officer turnover and bring a level of professionalism to the force so that it "stands out from other departments in the area."
William "Bill" Cox, 41, was appointed police chief in a 4-1 decision by the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night, Nov. 6 following a lengthy executive session.
He was chosen from a field of eight candidates, with Ward 4 Aldermen Cecil Nichols, who serves as police commissioner, casting the only vote against the appointment, citing an issue with the salary.
Cox, a detective on the force, took over the department last Wednesday after Mayor James A. Young administered his oath of office.
"I'm very excited," Cox said of his new position. "We have a very good department and I want to see us become a great department. We will strive for a level of professionalism that makes us stand out from others in the area."
While the police department is authorized for 30 officers, Cox said the force was currently short five.
"Turnover is a concern and I want to work to cut that as low as I can," he said. "I would like to see our officers stay here until they retire."
The new chief succeeds Dickie Sistrunk who retired in July.
Cox's annual salary was set at $41,267, the same as the former chief.
Nichols said he voted against Cox's appointment because he wanted to see the chief's salary increased.
"I was not voting against the candidate," he said. "I wanted to get the pay 'up equal to some of the municipalities in Mississippi that are our size.
"We have probably the lowest paid police chief in the state of Mississippi for the size of our town. It wasn't that I wasn't for Chief Cox. I wasn't for hiring anybody for the pay we were offering. I wanted to get it where it needed to be."
Aldermen narrowed their decision last week to three candidates, including current Assistant Chief Julian Greer, Mayor Young said.
"Assistant Chief Greer respectfully declined being considered based upon the salary the new chief would make," Young said.
Greer's current salary is $40,200.
"There was no salary increase for that position and we went back and asked the candidates if they would come knowing what that salary was," Young said. "Mr. Greer said not at this time. I respect him for that. I was disappointed actually because he was one of the top candidates. He is going to keep his personal integrity and help grow this department as he has always done."
Mayor Young voiced support for Cox.
"He is a great guy," he said. "You have to start with a sound person morally and I think Mr. Cox is that kind of person. I am confident with the tools that he has around him, that he can do the job."
Young said the role of the police department was to reduce crime and be a servant of the community.
"Having a face in the community is what community policing is all about," he said.
Cox is a graduate of Leake Academy and Mississippi State University where he earned a degree in psychology.
He worked in the mental health field for a few years before entering law enforcement with the Memphis Police Department.
He worked for the Olive Branch Police Department before returning home in 2003 to work for Philadelphia PD. He worked for the Sheriff's office for a period before going back to the PD in 2009.
He and his wife, Britta, have four children: Carrigan, 16; Loralee, 15; Connor, 10; and Sam 7.