Ballot Box May Decide Future Wiggins Police Chiefs

Wiggins may become one of only a handful of Mississippi towns where the decision on who gets the city's top law enforcement job is in the hands of voters.

At Tuesday's board of alderman meeting, alderman-at-large Raymond Collins says he will suggest making the police chief an elected position instead of appointed.

"I think that's political by the board deciding who will be the chief of police," said Collins. "That's a powerful position that's a prominent position. It carries a lot of responsibilities so I think the people ought to decide."

Current Police Chief Reid Lowe has no problem with the ballot box. In fact, he says a vote could make the job more attractive.

"One thing about being elected, you're there for four years versus appointed where you're at the pleasure of the city council. so there are pros and cons to both issues," Chief Lowe said.

Two other alderman WLOX spoke with said they're not sure if they support the change, but with crime down in the city of Wiggins, they do support Chief Lowe.

Collins says he's in Lowe's corner as well, and his reasons for making the switch from an elected to an appointed position are nothing personal.

"I do support Chief Lowe, but it's not the man, it's the position," said Lowe. "If people would like to see it elected then I think we ought to give people an opportunity."

If the board of aldermen does decide to make the police chief an elected position, voters would not get the chance cast their ballots until 2005. Only a few cities in the state elect police chiefs. None are in South Mississippi.