WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Waveland residents have mixed reactions about the shake-up at the city police department.
Some citizens say the city needs to maintain its own police force at all costs. Others say if budget cuts dictate, they could accept city police services provided by the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
A line of patrol cars sat parked late Tuesday morning in front of the Waveland Police Department off Highway 90.
Posted flyers outside the police station and mayor's office advertised the emergency meeting to consider the police chief's firing, the city budget crisis and the sheriff's department taking over city police services.
"No, no, no, no. We need a police department here," said Waveland resident Phyllis Boyd, reacting over the sheriff's department possibly taking over police services, "Well, I think that's all right, but we need our local police 'cause the sheriff's department has enough to do with the county,"
The Boyds moved to Waveland from Michigan nine years ago.
"They should keep the police department," said Kent Boyd, "Because we need a little protection around here."
Folks we talked with say public safety should be a top priority in Waveland, whichever agency is providing it.
"It's very important. It's very important. We need people to protect us. We need good police officers to get out and do their job and help protect the citizens," said Waveland resident Cindy Poindexter.
"I would like to see our police department still going on, but if it has to come to the sheriff's department, then you know, we'll just have to go with the sheriff's department," Waveland resident Dana Bielstein said.
Some fear a sheriff's department takeover of city police services could mean less coverage.
"Quite frankly, I don't appreciate it. Because what are we going to do with the lack of law enforcement in this community," said one woman.
Off camera, several Waveland residents told WLOX News there's likely more to this police department shake-up than simply a lack of money.
They suggest that politics is also at play.
"I'd like to see things ironed out. and if it means that the sheriff's department has to take things over for a while to get things back in order, then so be it," said Poindexter.
With ongoing city budget struggles,some residents also expressed concern that cutbacks in other city services could follow the police department shake-up.
And while some Waveland residents told us they were shocked to learn about the firing of the longtime city police chief, others said they weren't all that surprised.