Moss Point mayor says of police: "We are not shorthanded"

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Police have a person of interest in custody in connection with a deadly drive-by shooting in Moss Point. Officers say a gunman used an AK-47 to spray bullets across a street where more than a dozen children were playing and one man was killed.

Officers say Donta Bradley, 21, of Pascagoula died Thursday afternoon. Another man, whose name not being released, was also shot. Officers say his injuries are not life threatening.

That shooting was hardly an isolated incident. In less than a month, eight people have been shot in Moss Point in three different incidents. The violence has some residents expressing concerns about whether Moss Point police have the resources they need as far as manpower.

After the drive by shooting off of Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, people in the neighborhood were hesitant to say very much to our reporter. However, Jackson County NAACP president Curly Clark said people are talking to him about their concerns about the level of staffing at the Moss Point Police Department.

"I think people feel that if there is more of a police presence in their neighborhood, that would make them safer," said Clark. "I don't know if that's a fact or not, but that's the perception out there."

Whatever the perception, Mayor Aniece Liddell said the reality is there are more officers patrolling the streets now than in the previous administration.

"There have been a number of incidents that have taken place in the area, so I think people are, at the moment, up in alarm," said Mayor Liddell. "But the policemen are out there. They are patrolling. And no, we are not shorthanded. "

Mayor Liddell said while there are only three vacancies, she admits high turnover has plagued the police force. When officers leave, she said the new hires aren't always immediately ready to go on patrol. As a matter of fact, officials said several trainees are at the academy right now.

"We sometimes get a lot of rookies. First time policemen. That's an issue," she said. "It takes a lot of time to train them, versus having seasoned policeman that come from other places. So we have to look at that and look at what we can do to keep those once we've trained them here."

The mayor said she hopes with strong leadership of a new chief and improvements to the police station will boost morale and create more stability in the force, so officers who sign on will stick around.

The mayor said the city has received more than 40 applications for the police chief job. Interviews will start next week.

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