by Sarah Ulmer

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics is asking for extra support from the state in order to pay their agents more money and decrease turnover in the department. HB262 would provide a $2,500 raise to agents. The last raise was three years ago.

Right now, the MBN is reporting around 30 vacancies out of 127 pins allotted to them. Director John Dowdy said that they currently have 22 agents that are eligible to retire within the next two years.

The Department is losing on average two agents every month for the last 7-8 months.

Why?

Dowdy says it has to do with an inability to compete with counties and other states when it comes to pay. The starting salary for an MBN agent is $38,000. Officers could easily make more working for county law enforcement or other states like Texas, whose officers start off making in the $70,000 range. Their ability to hire more agents is solely based on funding, a problem Dowdy said extends to other agencies like the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

“While we are grateful for legislation to provide increased pay to our agents, lawmakers should also consider the support personnel and an increase in their pay, however we are definitely in support of any pay raise to agents,” said Dowdy.

The responsibility to revise the starting salary to include the $2,500 pay raise would be left up to the State Personnel Board, and would go into effect July 1, 2018.

The MBN is also hoping to see SB2833 pass which would allow for seized items to be liquidated and money put into an account in the event that the owners come back for it later.

The bill would give the owner 30 days from the time of seizure to retrieve their property. Dowdy said it would free up space that the bureau doesn’t have to store these items.