City council discusses future of Diamondhead police force

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - It has been a controversial topic in Diamondhead since becoming a city nearly two years ago. Should the city have its own police department?

For two years now, the city has had an agreement with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, but in February the interim mayor hired a police chief to start the city's own department. Just three months later the chief resigned. What is next for the department?

Diamondhead currently has nine police officers hired by the Hancock County Sheriff's Department but assigned to the city.

"We are a small city with limited resources, so we are taking advantage of some economies of scale," Mayor Tommy Schafer said.

"The sheriff's office already has in place a full narcotics division, full investigation department and all the supervision and administration."

Schafer believes there are many benefits to keeping the inter-local agreement.

"All indications are that it would cost more to implement our own, and even though it would cost more we still may not have the resources available that we do now."

For now, the council agreed this is the best option for the city and approved a new two year contract. County supervisors have not yet approved the new agreement, and with the current contract set to expire at the end of the year the Diamondhead council had to call a special meeting.

"We have got an agreement theoretically that everyone thinks is good and we plan to move forward with that. What we did today is extend the existing agreement until the new one gets put in place."

There are three officers on duty at all times in Diamondhead. The new agreement also adds an on call animal control officer.

"In the long term I think it would be better to have our own police force but in the interim I think this makes the most sense financially," said Councilman Ernie Knobloch.

The council still has mixed feelings about the future of policing in the city, so the new contract allows for the council to get out of the agreement before the two years is up if they choose.

"I think time will tell depending on the type of growth we see in Diamondhead. Maybe so, maybe not," Schafer said.

The current and new agreements only require Diamondhead taxpayers to pay the costs of salaries for city officers.

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