Crime numbers are falling in the olive branch

Photo: Olive Branch Police Chief Don Gammage speaks with Olive Branch Rotary Club. (Bob Bakken / DeSoto County News)

The Olive Branch Police Chief Don Gammage recently checked out some of the town’s statistics on criminal activity and the department’s response at a luncheon held by the Olive Branch Rotary Club.

One of the areas of concern when a court ruling allowed the annexation of 18.5 square miles of unincorporated DeSoto County was how the Olive Branch Police Department might cover the city’s new areas.

“We already have 1,636 calls in the annexed areas,” said Gammage. “We worked very, very hard in the affiliated areas.”

Since the end of May, his numbers have shown over 500 traffic and warning notices in the annexed areas.

Another statistic in Gammage’s presentation points to a 3.7 percent decline in overall crime by mid-November. As of that point in 2021, there have been three murders in the city, but all three occurred in one case, on New Years Day, when two men and a woman were found dead in an apartment building. A man from Cordova, Tennessee, was later arrested and charged on the case.

Gammage pointed out that there were two homicides in the city in all of 2020 and three in 2019.

“Our stats were down in 2021 from 2019 and 2020, so that’s a good thing, and we’ve covered another 18.5 square miles so we’re happy about that,” said Gammage.

The Olive Branch Police Department goes to great lengths to reach the community and uses social media as a tool to communicate with the public.

“We want you all to know what we do every day in the Olive Branch Police Department,” said Gammage. “We have over 40,000 followers on our Facebook page. Everything you want to know about the Olive Branch Police Department when it comes to traffic, road closures, and crime statistics we will post on social media.

The department also operates a Twitter and Instagram account.

In his conversation with the Rotary club, Gammage pointed out some of the outreach programs the department has during the year. This includes the annual Shop With A Cop, which this year takes place on December 17th at the Walmart Supercenter. Between 30-40 young people, who are determined by their situation, can buy Christmas toys and other items from a police officer.

The police chief thanked the city and local government for the support of his department.

“I’ve been really blessed to have the resources we need in my 13 years as boss,” said Gammage. “I have worked for four mayors and several board members (the lay judges) and they have always been in charge of law enforcement.”

He noted that it is hard for people to get into law enforcement anymore and that the number one job now is recruiting and retention. One of the incentives for working at Olive Branch is compensation.

“The mayor and council of aldermen have made Olive Branch officers the highest-paid in the state,” Gammage said. “They had to do this to recruit officers,” added that OBPD was no longer full 21 officers at a time. The department is only two away from a rule group.

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