The City of Gautier will no longer work with the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County to sweep drugs off the streets. Gautier is the third city to cut ties with the task force following the probe into a July shooting involving two agents. Gautier's city manager told Patrice Clark it was not an easy decision, but it had to be done.
After some rocky months, Gautier felt it was time to end its relationship with Jackson County's drug team. City Manager Samantha Abell said the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation's probe into a gun being fired at the task force office back in July played a significant part in the split.
"It certainly was a catalyst. It got the conversations moving and there have been conversations for some time," Abell said. "This is the best thing to do."
When neighboring cities Pascagoula and Moss Point publicly pulled out the task force last month, Gautier seemed a bit hesitant. But Abell said that was not the case.
"Until the sheriff's department issued a press release that we were pulling out, we were not aware we were pulling out. Certainly taking a month to make a decision that would financially impact our city as well as our public safety, I think that merits making sure we were making the right decision moving forward," Abell said.
Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis is pleased Gautier is finally ready to work with his department and Pascagoula to form a second drug task force, which will focus on combating street level drug dealers and users.
"It is extremely important to rid your communities of drug dealers and if we can somehow reduce the demand," Chief Davis said.
Abell agrees the change will help keep more citizens and the city drug free.
"The City of Gautier has the second to lowest drug problem compared to the other cities and the rest of county."
Gautier, Moss Point and Pascagoula police departments plan to work out an interlocal agreement and then give it to each city for approval. The Mississippi Attorney General's office will then have to give the green light before the cities can launch a new drug task force.
Ocean Springs and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department's drug agents are still part of the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County. Officials with the sheriff's department said they have replaced the Pascagoula and Moss Point drug agents on the force, and hope to fill this new empty spot by the end of the week.
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