Emotions strong at Bay St. Louis workshop about future of police department

Emotions strong at Bay St. Louis workshop about future of police department

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - It was a workshop with big implications, and Bay St. Louis police officers were out in force Thursday night.

But, the emergency was about their future.

"This is guaranteed to cost me money, and most likely guarantee to cost me my job," said new officer Kyle Craig. "So, just from a citizen's and police perspective, I'm not on board with this plan."

The plan: A proposal to hire the Hancock County Sheriff's Office to take over day-to-day operations of the city police.

It would be a cost-saving move among many the city will have to make while facing what council members say is a mandatory repayment of $320,000 to the Department of Justice in misspent drug forfeiture money.

And although it will save the city money, it means jobs will be eliminated. Councilman Lonnie Falgout is aware of the anxiety among officers.

"To me, it's not about fiscal responsibility," Falgout said. "It's about what you guys have to endure, and ladies, and the administrative staff. And y'all still sitting back there along the wall thinking, 'What the heck's going to happen next?' Well, we owe to y'all to get this done. We owe it to y'all to get it done right away."

However, public voices were not for the plan.

"I think you're playing with fire," said David Mayley, father of a Bay St. Louis police officer. "And I think y'all are endangering the safety of the citizens you're sworn to protect."

Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam was questioned about everything from golf carts in the city, to response time. While he says he it would make department run well, it's not a job he's seeking.

"All I'm going to gain from this is a bunch of headaches," Adam said. "They asked me to do it. I put the proposal together. Now, it's up to them to go either way."

Adam says it's time to make a decision.

"It's not only time to make a decision for me, but for their guys - for the Bay St. Louis PD," Adam said. "Give these guys some answers."

The council does plan to have another meeting and public hearing, but no date has been set.

Mayor Les Fillingame says he still believes the best decision is to keep the police department as it is, and he intends to appoint a police chief soon.

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