The Sherman City Council approved an ordinance Monday that will provide higher starting pay to police officers who join the Sherman Police Department with prior experience. The proposal was made by Police Chief Otis Henry during an update to councilors regarding the Department’s hiring initiatives. Sherman police are expanding the reach of their search for new officers, and Henry explained that expansion includes appealing to individuals with a background in police work.

The Sherman City Council approved an ordinance Monday that will provide higher starting pay to police officers who join the Sherman Police Department with prior experience. The proposal was made by Police Chief Otis Henry during an update to councilors regarding the Department’s hiring initiatives. Sherman police are expanding the reach of their search for new officers, and Henry explained that expansion includes appealing to individuals with a background in police work.


"We will be saving, in the long run, time and effort — and in the case of Texas Certified Peace Officers — money," said Henry. "It’ll be very beneficial; there’s a lot of officers throughout this area that may be kind of settled in to where they’re at, and when they see that Sherman is going to reward their experience … that may be the enticement they need to reach out and come to a better place to work."


The salary structure change will allow new officers to enter the department laterally rather than starting on the bottom rung. Experienced police who are new to the department would see their pay increase between $5,700 and $7,500 annually, based on qualifications. The change will affect officers with at least two years of experience but less than three years. Henry said that narrow range was chosen to limit the financial impact on the Department’s budget, and could be expanded in later years depending on how the program is received.


Other changes in the Department’s hiring push include relaxing its policy on past marijuana usage for applicants. Previously, anyone who had smoked pot 21 times in their lifetime was disqualified. Under the new policy, those who apply will have to pass a polygraph test confirming they have not used the drug in the previous two years.


In other business, the City Council made permanent a stop sign on Hilre Drive at Knollwood Drive. Public Works Director Clay Barnett said the sign was placed at the three-way intersection after it was requested by a citizen. Barnett said the city was forced to place a stop sign instead of a yield sign because of state-issued guidelines.


The body also appointed former Council member Terrence Steele to the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan Subcommittee. Steele was chosen to voice citizen concerns during the area transportation planning process.


Mayor Cary Wacker ended the meeting by issuing a community-wide invitation to the city’s inaugural Red River Mardi Gras and Jazz Festival. The festival will be held Saturday in Sherman’s Courthouse Square.


"This coming weekend is our first ever Red River Mardi Gras & Jazz Festival in Sherman, centered around downtown activities and our Sherman Jazz Museum. I want to emphasize, as have the downtown folks, that this is a family-friendly Mardi Gras. We’re very excited; it’s just a fun theme."