Harrison Co. Sheriff: Time to look at law enforcement consolidation

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On the heels of Harrison County Supervisors deciding to look at the possibility of consolidating county and city fire services, the sheriff said it's time to bring law enforcement into the discussion as well. Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said he'd like to see the county and the five cities consider streamlining their policing.

D'Iberville is the latest Harrison County city to launch its own police department. The sheriff said six law enforcement agencies in one county means tougher competition for qualified staff.

"We're all out trying to hire the same employees. If we want to try to get the best dispatchers we can get, let's get them for all the agencies. Let's pull the good ones together,"said Sheriff Brisolara. "Same thing with the law enforcement. Here I am paying $32,000 a year. The city of Gulfport, paying more than that. Biloxi, paying more than that. Biloxi is the highest paid right now on the Coast and we're competing for the same people. Well who do you think is going to get who? The bottom line is money."

D'Iberville and Pass Christian police have agreements with the county to run their dispatch. Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said all law enforcement in Harrison County should take a long hard look at consolidating services before the financial strain becomes overwhelming.

"It's getting costly. To the point to where we won't be able to afford it before long. Unless we start looking at consolidating,"said Sheriff Brisolara.

The sheriff said he realizes convincing five cities and the county to surrender any control might be a hard sell.

"I think it's with the mayors and chiefs sitting down and talking about what's best for their communities," Sheriff Brisolara said. "What's best for law enforcement as a whole in their community and the county. I just think it's stuff we really, seriously need to start taking a look at pretty quick while costs are going to allow us to do it. "

The sheriff said equipment costs could also be reduced if more cities were to consolidate services like dispatching.

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