Police Chiefs Address Problems At Leadership Convention - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/01/05

Police Chiefs Address Problems At Leadership Convention

Dozens of police chiefs and assistant chiefs gathered in Biloxi Tuesday for the opening day of the Police Chief Association's Summer Meeting in Biloxi.

On just about any given day, these officials are giving orders and making tough evaluations. Tuesday was no exception as they were asked to address the issue of racial profiling.

"Back in the early 70s and 80s, racial profiling was pretty bad, as one would imagine. As law enforcement has progressed, and training has progressed, we've gotten away from racial profiling," DeKalb Police Chief Kirk Merchant said.

Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett says it's important for police leaders to talk openly about the subject.

"I don't see it as a problem in Vicksburg. That's not to say racial profiling itself hasn't been a problem in some parts of the country. I think that we have to acknowledge that it has been. And here again, this is what the training is all about. Let's hit a balance here. We need to do good, effective law enforcement without violating someone's rights."

Another problem police are facing is the increase of meth manufacturing within city limits. Last year, there were more than 700 drug busts in Mississippi. That's more than double the cases from 2003.

Police leaders hope new state legislation and community outreach will be the right ingredients for combating this problem.

"We've had some good legislation, though, as far as dealing with precursors, and controlling pseudoephedrine and things of that nature that are being sold," Chief Moffett said.

"We rely on the community to assist us in these investigations. So educating the public on what to look for is a big part of helping us to address the meth problem in the local area," said Gulfport Police Chief Steve Barnes.

by Toni Miles

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