The Ocean Springs Police Department is no longer a member of the Jackson County Narcotics Task Force. Ocean Springs aldermen voted to pull their city's officers off the Jackson County Narcotics Task Force after hearing allegations from alderman James Hagan that some of them are under Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd's close scrutiny.
Hagan said during the board Tuesday night, "Members of this board have been targeted by the same Narcotics Task Force on multiple occasions on the direction of Sheriff Mike Byrd. "
Hagan told WLOX he got his information from area law enforcement officers. However, he admits he doesn't have any actual proof to offer Ocean Springs aldermen that they were targeted.
"All I offered to them is my word," said Hagan. "They realized I don't spread rumors and innuendo and this is actually something factual that I was willing to stand behind. And that was enough for them."
Hagan said he knows some people will think he has an ax to grind. A grand jury recently dismissed charges of possession of child porn, embezzlement, and molestation made against him. It was a case brought by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
Hagan said this is not personal, and he thought it was important to raise the issue. He also points to well publicized problems at the county task force. In July, a shooting incident at the Task Force office came to light. The sheriff told WLOX News a weapon accidentally discharged, hitting a piece of tile which wounded an officer. Questions about that incident ultimately led city police chiefs in Moss Point, Pascagoula and Gautier to ask that their officers withdraw from the task force.
"I think as far as working relationships, I don't see as long as Byrd is in office the relationships in Jackson County will never be mended," said Hagan.
When asked about Hagan's allegations, Sheriff Mike Byrd said simply, "I don't respond to garbage."
The sheriff's deputy in charge of the task force at the time of the shooting incident was indicted last month on a misdemeanor assault charge.
One more note about Tuesday night's vote in Ocean Springs, all the alderman voted in favor or withdrawing except Jerry Dalgo. Dalgo told WLOX abstained because he didn't feel comfortable voting without more information.
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