Mayor says "backstabbing" hindered Biloxi's police chief search

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Allegations of cheap shots and backstabbing surfaced Tuesday after the Biloxi City Council rejected the nomination of Linda Atterberry for Police Chief. Those allegations came from Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway.  He was angered that the person he described as the best candidate for the job was treated so rudely by people within her own department.

Mayor Holloway said he felt "some of the other candidates had a hand in what happened" to Atterberry. He said that, because as soon as her name was announced as Biloxi's police chief nominee, negative comments about her career, and her personal life, started to spread across the city.

The other four finalists for the police chief position were all contacted about the mayor's allegation. They all said they had nothing to do with the negative comments, or the council voting against Atterberry's nomination.

"I think it was a cheap shot, and probably a shot at me rather than her," thought Mayor Holloway. His rant about how Biloxi's police chief search played out came after the city council rejected Atterberry's nomination.

Bill Stallworth was one of the six council members to vote no.  "I think that this process, as my colleague said, was a bit flawed," he said.

The only councilman who supported the process was Clark Griffith.  "In my opinion, we can't disregard the selection that was made by this panel just because we don't agree with the outcome," thought Griffith.

The five person panel was put together by Mayor Holloway.  In August, it sorted through more than three dozen applications for the Biloxi police chief job.  It interviewed the five finalists.  And it graded each candidate.  Atterberry had the best grade.

After the meeting, Atterberry said, "It concerns me deeply that they didn't honor and respect that process at all.  Think maybe there were other issues that weren't brought out."

The one issue that was brought out was how Atterberry ever became a candidate.  The 59-year-old became Biloxi's interim police chief in May.  At the time, the mayor told council members she would not be a candidate for the permanent position.  Yet at the meeting, the mayor said Atterberry went from out of the running to his nominee because of a realization he made a few months ago.

"I changed my mind.  And I think that anybody has the right to change their mind," said Holloway.

Stallworth said his vote was about the process, not the candidate.

"This is nothing personal.  This has to do with what we look at as the best possible representation for the city of Biloxi," said Stallworth.

When Atterberry was asked if she would resubmit your application, she said, "I'll remain neutral on anything as far as future plans right now.  Haven't had a chance to talk with the mayor.  I'm not really sure what the next step is going to be from my personal perspective."

According to a spokesman in the mayor's office, Atterberry can remain on as interim police chief until November 7.

When the other four finalists for the police chief job were asked if they would be candidates again, two said they would definitely resubmit their applications.  The other two wanted time to do some soul searching before they made their decisions.

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