Gulfport town hall meeting won't have city leaders in attendance

Gulfport town hall meeting won't have city leaders in attendance

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The promoter of Thursday night's town hall at the Orange Grove Community Center has sent out flyers claiming "a panel consisting of local leaders, law enforcement, educators, clergy and city officials" will be in attendance. Apparently, that's not the case.

"It isn't a Gulfport thing. Nobody in city politics was aware of it," Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania told WLOX News Now. "It's definitely not a city of Gulfport event."

Papania spoke with the town hall promoter Thursday morning and asked with police officers weren't invited to participate in the panel discussion. He was told police weren't necessary "in case someone wants to feel free to speak."

The chief points out his department holds community meetings all the time. In fact, he recently spoke with the NAACP.

"We're constantly in our community," said the chief.

The chief heard one component of the town hall meeting will be talk about a hotline people can call to share crime tips. Papania said a better idea is for witnesses to contact police, or call Crime Stoppers.

"I would prefer they would contact the police department," Chief Papania said. "I expressed that to him."

The chief is glad people are focused on ways to make Gulfport safer. He just wishes his department could be part of the solution.

"He says he's got his panel, so I wish him the best," Chief Papania said. "I don't anticipate any involvement from anyone in the city of Gulfport."

Thursday's night's town hall meeting begins at 6:30pm at the Orange Grove Community Center.

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