Archived Story

Bruce Edwards knows demands

Published 11:01am Saturday, March 15, 2014

FRANKLIN—After Bruce Edwards retired in 2010 as deputy chief of the Franklin Police Department, he found a sales job. He also discovered such work was not meant for him.

“In some ways, commission sales is more stressful than law enforcement,” he said. “It was not what I wanted to be doing. When the position [of communications manager] was advertised, I applied and here I am.”

At the request of The Tidewater News, Edwards recently made time to be interviewed, but would not address any controversy about his pay. Some people have complained that he’s making too much for a part-time employee. The city granted him $41.21 per hour when he was hired in June 2013, but Edwards can only work 32 hours per week as a retiree. That could earn him up to $68,623.36 per year if he worked all those hours weekly.

“I want to convey it’s not about me, it’s about what I can do for the city and its citizens,” he said. “I think I bring a great deal of experience.”

Edwards served 33 years on the force, working his way up from patrol officer. His father, Robert Edwards, was a deputy for the Southampton County Sheriff; his mother, Wanda, was a nurse. His parents, both deceased, were “very supportive” of his choice to become a policeman.

“I understand the demands of both the officers on the street and the communication side,” he added.

“The Communications Division is the very first contact with police, fire or EMS when an emergency occurs – or a non-emergency, for that matter,” said Edwards. “If we don’t answer the phones, you don’t get the service from that department.”

The qualifications to become a dispatcher are no less rigorous that a patrol officer, he said. Thorough background checks and testing are required. Plus, there’s a lot of security guidelines to know that serve as checks and balances.

Quality employees deserve to be paid accordingly, in Edwards’ opinion. An informal survey showed Franklin dispatchers to be paid the lowest starting salary in the area at $27,019; Suffolk is at $33,503.

As anywhere, there are high expectations for dispatchers. But the manager doesn’t want to train people only to have them leave right away for a greater salary.

“Citizens deserve the very best,” he said.

Edwards’ predecessor was Mickey Futrell, who retired as senior dispatcher on March 1, 2013.

“Mickey did a lot here, and he should have been paid better than he was,” Edwards acknowledged.

In addition to managing his division, there’s also the requirement to maintain or fix computer issues for the entire police department. Further, Edwards seeks out grants that can help his budget. He has to research to first ensure his office qualifies, then there are the write-ups of needs, purpose, budget and prices.

“I enjoy doing it,” said Edwards. “It’s a lot of work, but rewarding when it comes to fruition.”

Recently, he got a verbal confirmation from the 911 Wireless Service Board of a $150,000 grant that will replace some needed equipment. Franklin-Southampton Charities also has some funds to enable security upgrades.

Asked how residents can help a dispatcher when they have to make a call, the first thing is to tell where the emergency is happening. That way the dispatcher can begin sending whoever is needed right away. And should you call 911 by accident, don’t hang up. Just let the operator know you dialed incorrectly. This will save the time in having to trace the call to ensure an emergency has not been overlooked.

Wanda Cotton, who is one of the dispatchers, has been with the force for 22 years. Originally, she came looking for a secretarial position, but the part-time slot in communication was the only one open. She took it and stayed with the job.

“We were downtown then and had only one radio,” said Cotton. “Everything’s totally different.”

When dispatchers such as Cotton aren’t multi-tasking in answering calls and contacting the appropriate agency, they are also logging entries for accuracy and verification. It’s time-consuming and meticulous work, he said. His office is also regularly audited every three years.

“I’m very proud of our staff,” said Edwards.

 

  • wiskeymike

    Do all part time city workers get the extra benefit package? HELL NO .
    The city leaders have a lot to explain or a lot of back pay .

    Suggest Removal

    • simplifyingit

      Your dreaming if you think they’ll explain it! Martin will talk in circles about all kinds of city issues and projects until he thinks you’re confused/distracted and then smile and tell you how great everything is going to be after the next grant comes in. This city is run in a manner of a small car lot where lies are prevalen and the “run-around” is all you get.
      rmcclenny is correct, so many “back door” deals and issues and if the citizens actually cared they would shut the city down in a hurry.
      Remember when the fire chiefs tried hiring their own sons and Taylor forced them to fire both of them? Now the deputy chief is a direct supervisor of his “common law” daughter-in-law and not a word has been said! What was that nepotism rule again Bucky?
      It’s just mind boggling to think of all the stuff going on from dept to dept.

      Suggest Removal

      • DryRain

        I believe you are right about that nepotism. There was a policy about that… Good point.

        It is either policy or not policy!

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  • rmcclenny

    Not one word was spoken of how much money the city has in hand for his grant writing skills johnhenry in either article. I’m certainly glad I never got any business advice from you or the company you worked for or I wouldn’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of. If you were really honest with yourself and not a “yes” man also for the Chief, you would say it’s a ridiculous salary also. Maybe if I had bought an airplane that the Chief suggested I should do on 3 different occasions. I would be the Deputy Chief of Police now and none of this controversy would even exist. But you see, johnhenry; I’m not a yes man, I can think for myself and didn’t need the Chief or the City of Franklin to survive.

    Suggest Removal

  • Amos

    How is Bruce paying his way? He has been at the position for less than a year. He has applied for a grant or two. That is not a difficult process I do it every year. I do not believe JH works with the City so what does he base his claim on. Fantasy. Not only are there “Discouraged citizens” but other City workers who see these kind of unfair deals cut way to often while some work harder for a third of the pay a part time person is being given. As for the ” Why not pay for performance? ” perhaps that question could be explained to M.Futrell and other City workers like him who see this kind of injustice as a slap in the face.

    Suggest Removal

  • johnhenry

    What ever happened to pay for performance??? Bruce has clearly demonstrated that he is more than paying his way for his job requirements. I made twice his salary and benefits for only 20 hrs. a week as a business consultant. Why not pay for performance?? Discouraged citizens think about this!!!

    Suggest Removal

  • seymorebutts

    He needs a raise, or whoever else eventually ends up with the position. Not even Obama or his Russian boss (putin) could do this small town job. It’s just such a hard job which is why it requires up to 32 hours a week.

    Suggest Removal

  • handkusp45

    $41 per hour! Really? For a part-time employee? There has to be a better way to spend the city’s money. No wonder our taxes are so high.

    Suggest Removal

  • Amos

    No doubt Bruce has a lot of knowledge about the system he and Mickey built. Which worked out to be a good backdoor for Bruce. Bruce however is a dim light compared to Mickey. Bruce’s ego and arrogance has and will continue to cause him to fail as a respected leader. I know because I have worked with him. Knowledge he has but respect is earned and Bruce in 33 years on the force has not worked one day towards accomplishing that.

    Suggest Removal

    • simplifyingit

      None of us should be bashing Bruce here, what he did that you dislike as a deputy chief while you were his subordinate should be brought into this. ANY of us ,if we had someone “dumb” enough to pay us 87k with all those benefits and such “freedom” to come and go, would’ve have taken that pie!!
      The “seat” of this story is about how Franklin wastes taxpayer monies.

      To me Bruce has always been a fine man, honest and sure with citizens. Maybe he didn’t treat lower ranking officers the best, but what employer does? Very Very Few bosses can afford to be too friendly with their charges. You shouldn’t take it too personal, IMO.

      Suggest Removal

  • rmcclenny

    Was the $87,600 in salary and benefits tailor made for the position or the person in the position? Let’s think about this a moment; we have a job opening that is posted for a position that most people would believe it was a glorified dispatcher position, not stating the hours worked or the salary offered and we had only 3 people apply. How many people would have applied if there had been a disclosure to those minute facts? Secondly, the words potential and verbal confirmation of funds. The question would be; how much money does the city have in hand from all the promises of great things to come. Thirdly, How much is wasted on products and surplus that gets bought and hoarded but never used? Remember if anyone decides to answer that question, you know I already know the truth.
    The city managers office and this article really tries to justify this over expense of city funds but no matter how much icing you put on this wedding cake, when you cut into the middle, it still stinks.

    Suggest Removal

  • SandMan

    Stephen Cowles…it was admirable of you & the Tn to offer Edwards the chance of explaining “all” he does for the City. However, you failed to add the total increments of his benefit package, which totals over $87k.
    @ Edwards…while explaining how your family supported your efforts, you failed to mention your sister…the one you basically disowned & refuse to speak with….all over an inheritance.
    Your self described “soul searching”? More like your going through a lot of souls to get where you are today.

    Suggest Removal

  • employee2

    Bruce is a fine man and all of the uproar over his salary should not fall at his feet. Most people are more than happy to get the best deal they can when it comes to their pay. If there is an issue with his pay, it should be directed at those that okayed it. Bruce has the knowledge that Mickey had, and it is a valuable tool that needs to be used to bring the new supervisor up to speed quickly.

    Suggest Removal

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