HERNANDO, MS (abc24.com) - The city of Hernando is getting an early Christmas present. The present will be appreciated by everybody in town, except for the bad guys.
"We wanted to go ahead and hire someone now so they're ready to start the first of January to get moving," says Mayor Chip Johnson.
The town's starting the new year off right, with two new fire fighters, two ambulance drivers and a new police officer.
Hernando had vacancies to fill and Mayor Johnson said there's no time like the present.
"For a city of our size, we spend a high percentage of dollars on public safety," he tells abc24.com.
About 75 percent of the city's budget each year, in fact.
Johnson says Hernando makes safety a priority to stay ahead of the curve and keep the crime rate low.
The Police Department is made up of about 30 officers.
"We just hired two new officers," says Chief Mike Riley. "They're going to the academy in January."
Chief Mike Riley is looking to add one more.
"We're looking for someone who can get on the street pretty quick," he adds.
The fire department already made its hires. One of the new employees is certified and ready to go. Johnson says the other's in training and will head to the academy soon.
"They work with us as trainees for a few months to make sure they're ready," Johnson says. "Because we don't want to send someone to academy and have them fail."
Hernando has a high fire rating -- a seven out of 10. Johnson's proud of that rank, saying there are extra benefits to it.
"What it does for people is in their pocket books. Besides the safety aspect, it means their homeowner insurance is low."
And that he says is an investment in the whole community can appreciate.