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By CARL SMITH
Starkvilleâ€™s police and fire departments both earned important distinctions in 2012.
In August, the city announced its fire protection rating improved to a Class 4 designation after a summer inspection by the Mississippi State Ratings Bureau. The improvement provides reduced insurance costs for local commercial and industrial properties, and the university, Starkville Fire Department Chief Rodger Mann said in August.
â€śCommercial (structures are) going to be affected somewhere on average around 7, maybe 8 percent. Thatâ€™s a pretty significant reduction on your premium. On a $10,000 payment, thatâ€™s $700. It will not affect any rolling stock â€¦ only structures that are commercial in the city,â€ť State Farm insurance agent Jack Forbus said in August. â€śI donâ€™t think itâ€™s going to affect any of the one-story, one-family rental units. Thatâ€™s considered a dwelling, therefore the dwellings donâ€™t get them. Apartments are going to be covered for this. Thatâ€™s more money going back into the city.â€ť
To receive the new designation, the city was judged in four categories: water supply, fire department capabilities, 911 services and building codes. The Starkville Board of Aldermen adopted the 2011 National Electric Code and the 2012 International Code Council standards in May and will begin enforcing them in 2013.
Mann credited the cityâ€™s public services department, planners and previous fire department administration for their efforts over the years to improve Starkvilleâ€™s fire services.
While the cityâ€™s fire designation improved in 2012, Starkville Police Department became the sixth Mississippi agency to earn national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement.
CALEA officials performed an on-site assessment in June in which SPD was tested on 192 requirements for the national certification. The police department also had to meet 11 additional state-specific standards.
The leader of the assessment team, Lebanon, Tenn. Police Department Chief Scott Bowen, said in June he thought one of SPDâ€™s strongest assets was its personnel.
â€śWe look top to bottom throughout the agency. We like to talk to as many of the personnel as we can. We actually get to talk to the employees and interact with them. One of the things we saw was the professionalism of the employees. They were very forthcoming with all the information they had,â€ť Bowen said in June. â€ś(SPD is) very lucky to have the personnel it has being a smaller agency. I think that starts with Chief (David Lindley).â€ť
In November, Lindley said CALEA accreditation is the pinnacle of law enforcement status.
â€śI am extremely proud of the members of SPD for being able to attain this measure of success. CALEA is the gold standard for law enforcement agencies. Itâ€™s been a long process, but weâ€™ve prevailed,â€ť Lindley said. â€śI hope the public realizes how much of a milestone achievement this is.â€ť