Reaction mixed on potential takeover of Bay St. Louis Police Department

Reaction mixed on potential takeover of Bay St. Louis Police Department

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Sunday afternoon was a nice day to relax and talk politics in Bay St. Louis.

And, just like most subjects, a possible takeover of the Bay St. Louis Police Department has mixed reaction among residents.

"I think it's something to be looked at," said resident Rod Ward. "We're a county of 45,000 people. We've got three police departments, I think we could easily be one. It would probably be more efficient. It'd probably help solve crime."

In a recent public workshop, leaders introduced the idea that Hancock County Sheriff's Office take over patrols in the city as it has done in Diamondhead. Current officers would be hired on to the sheriff's office.

Resident Rod Ward says the move to introduce the idea was expected.

"It's not a surprise really," Ward said. "City's been under federal and state investigation for some time; lot of things there. I don't think it reflects on the police officers, I think it's reflected on the leadership of that department."

And a leadership take-over has appeal for him.

"The top cop would be elected," Ward said. "He won't be appointed, and that's something to be considered, too."

Sheriff Ricky Adam told city leaders that he could save the county $300,000-$500,000. But, that savings would mean layoffs and pay cuts; something that is a game changer for Bill Lady.

"I just think it needs a whole lot more thinking," Lady said. "I think they're kind of jumping to conclusions because they lost the chief of police, and they haven't decided which direction they're going to go."

Lady says there is already good cooperation between the departments.

"They've been doing this way for so long now, why change the system until you really know that it's going to save a lot and everybody can be happy with the decision," Lady added.

Mayor Les Fillingame, who is against the plan, says if the council addresses the proposal, it would be at the next meeting on November 8.

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