WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Jimmy Varnell called his firing "a bunch of bull@&*%." In what he called a surprise move, Waveland cut ties with its longtime police chief.
And now, we're learning the city may dissolve its entire police force. The reason? The city's nearly $225,000 a month, budget deficit.
Waveland Police Chief Jimmy Varnell said he walked into his office expecting a routine day Monday. He had no idea he was about to lose his job.
"They handed me two papers, one to retire and I could either retire or be terminated," Varnell said. "It was pretty shocking to me when they were handed to me."
The 55-year-old was fired from a police department he's run since 1992. When asked what reasons did city leaders give for his termination, Varnell responded, "For not keeping the budget up. For not having the guys write enough tickets. For not running a good enough police department, I guess."
City leaders wouldn't comment on those allegations. However, they admit they're struggling with a critical budget shortfall.
"Faced with a shortfall on population and declining revenues, we're in a financial bind. So we're going to address this and do what's best for the citizens of Waveland," said Ward 1 Alderwoman Lili Stahler.
Aldermen are looking at several options to make ends meet. WLOX News has learned the state auditor's office has recommended Waveland dissolve its police department, and let the sheriff's department provide police protection. The sheriff and city leaders had those discussions Monday morning.
It's an idea that isn't sitting well with some Waveland residents.
"My opinion is getting rid of the entire police department is going to hurt the city," resident Mark Garcia said.
There are a lot of questions that no one with the city seems to want to answer. Like what will happen to the new $4 million police station going up on McLurin Street?
"I guess the Sheriff's Department will have a good sub-station," Varnell said. "Maybe they'll make it a shelter for people."
A decision about what to do with the Waveland Police Department could be made on Tuesday. Waveland aldermen deal with their budget issues Tuesday at 3:30 at the city's civic center.
WLOX News wanted to talk with Waveland Mayor David Garcia about the mess at the police department. But we found the mayor was in the hospital.