BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources says he's been looking for a professional, competent, well-trained leader to head-up the Marine Patrol Office. On Thursday, he announced that Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis will take over the job. He said it was more than just Davis's resume that impressed him.
"I'm confident his education, his experience, and training will lead our Marine Patrol to be the most professional, well-respected marine law enforcement in the whole Gulf of Mexico. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Keith Davis, your Marine Patrol Chief," said MDMR Executive Director Jamie Miller.
Keith Davis received a standing ovation as he was officially named chief of the Office of Marine Patrol.
"We will work together to maintain a high level of integrity in this office, as well as work with the commercial and recreational fishermen and the entire community. I look forward to working with you. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your love," Davis told the crowd.
Miller said Davis has earned the respect and community support during his 21-year law enforcement career, especially as chief of the Moss Point Police Department. The announcement of Davis' hiring came two weeks after he turned in his letter of resignation to Moss Point city leaders.
"Keith reduced violent crimes in the city and regained the trust of its citizens. But Keith is much more than a career law enforcement man. He genuinely cares about the community and its people," said Miller. "I think the community in each place he has been in has supported him and embraced the initiatives he has brought and I'm looking forward to him bringing those same things to the DMR."
Davis will now oversee 40-marine patrol officers and enforce seafood, boater safety, and conservation laws. Davis said he will use the partnerships he has formed and experience to enhance the department.
"We want to foster partnerships with the fishermen and the boaters that are conducive to the protection of life and property, as well as marine resources that are all around us," said Davis.
"At the end, he just rose to the top by his professionalism. So it was a clear choice in the end, one I'm very confident in and very proud of," said Miller.
Miller said the chief's new job is one of the top positions in the DMR. That's because following the corruption scandal involving some top leaders within the DMR, this year, the state legislature passed a law restructuring the agency. By doing so, they elevated the status of the Chief of Marine Patrol, equal to the positions of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Scientific Officer.
"It's a very important role. You're talking about economic development for the state of Mississippi. Marine resources play a key role in that, so certainly I take that very seriously," said Davis.
And it's a role he is ready to tackle, starting July first.
"It really is a blessing to finally be able to say I was chosen for this position. I look forward to working with the men and women that are there," said Davis. "I feel excited about this new chapter in my law enforcement career. I'm just excited to be part of the team."
Davis's last day as Moss Point police chief is Friday. In his new DMR job, he will make $70,000 a year.