Hurt named Waveland police chief

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The city of Waveland turned to a familiar face to run its police department.

Kenny Hurt, former chief investigator with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, was hired for the post replacing long-time chief Jimmy Varnell who was let go during the city's recent budget crisis.

It's the second time in four months Hurt was hired for the position.

Hurt is no stranger to the police chief's office at the Waveland Police Department.  Aldermen named Hurt their chief four months ago.  But after five days, a looming budget crisis forced Hurt to step away.

"It was my fifth day here, and when I seen the actual figures of what the city had I told them look I will step down and I will stay and help run it as much as I can for nothing sure that was a low blow cause I just lost just walked away from a very good job working for Steve Garber but I went to the phone and dialed can I have my job back and he said come on," said Hurt.

Waveland's budget crisis significantly reduced the city's staff including the police department's. At one point the city only had one patrol officer per shift.

"I've got six working the road, by the middle of next week I should have two per shift that will give us 11 counting me," explained the new chief.

Before the budget woes the police department had 23 employees.

The budget ax forced Waveland to disband its narcotics unit, and its investigations departments.  "I'm hoping in the future we can get some investigators back," Hurt said.  "The city is coming up and it's looking a whole lot better for 2012."

Right now the Hancock County Sheriff's Department is handling investigative duties for Waveland.

"Bringing the narcotics squad back right now within the next year and a half it's totally impossible.  We do not have the budget for it.  There is no way."

Hurt says he plans to change the image of the department.  Waveland has been slapped with a string of lawsuits most involved the use of tasers. When Mayor Garcia took office he took the tasers away.

"They are trained to use the tasers and they're going to have to use it that way if we get them back," Hurt added.  "We're going to change the view of the people in Waveland with the Police Department. I promise you that."

Chief Hurt says he will have an open door policy with the citizens of Waveland.

He says residents can expect to see the return of uniformed patrol officers on the streets.  He says the T-shirts and pocket pants officers now wear will go away.

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