BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Biloxi city councilman says he thinks divisiveness within the police department is why the mayor changed his mind about who should be eligible to be chief. Ward Five's Tom Wall spoke with WLOX News a day after the council voted down Mayor A.J. Holloway's nomination of Interim chief Linda Atterberry as police chief.
During the process of selecting the new chief, a committee ranked how five finalists answered a series of questions.
"They just graded everybody and sent their forms in. None of them even knew who the number one candidate was," said Wall. "That's not the way that committee is supposed to work."
Committee member and former Biloxi Councilman Eric Dickey said, "I don't have a problem with people questioning the process, however, I looked at each individual as an equal player. I went with what was sitting in front of me."
One of those applicants was interim Chief Atterberry who council members thought wasn't under consideration.
"Everyone was concerned it would be an unfair advantage for her," said Wall. "It just went from she's no candidate at all. The next thing you know, she is a candidate and she's the recommended new chief of police."
Dickey said at the first committee meeting, the city administration told the committee that Atterberry was in the running. The mayor said he changed his mind about Atterberry's eligibility. Councilman Wall thinks he knows why.
"The mayor tells me there are some cliques and some bad behavior going on in the police department that he is not happy with," Wall said. "I think that's why he wanted her as the chief. That he has confidence that she is the one that could straighten that out. I don't really see how that could be, but that's not my call."
"I think I'd prefer just let's get this over with," Wall said. "Let's get someone in the chief's chair. The mayor can work with them to get them to help him straighten out what he thinks is wrong there."
Mayor Holloway would not comment about Wall's statement about alleged bad behavior and cliques within the police department. It's not clear yet whether the mayor will try again with a selection committee to nominate a police chief. If he does, Dickey said he thinks a current council member should sit in to observe the process.