Residents react to firing of Bay St. Louis Police Chief

Residents react to firing of Bay St. Louis Police Chief

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (AP) - Bobbi-Jo McSwain was arrested on Sept. 20 in Bay St. Louis and is facing multiple charges including child endangerment, eluding a law enforcement officer and simple assault on a police officer.

Issman says Mayor Mike Favre fired him over a disagreement about how the investigation into McSwain's arrest was being handled. Bay St. Louis residents are wondering where the police department goes from here after a year full of controversy.

"We're accustomed to being set back," said Bay St. Louis resident Ken Murphy.

Murphy is preparing to open Dan B. Murphy's restaurant in downtown Bay St. Louis. The setbacks he's talking about include the suicide of Police Chief Mike DeNardo just over one year ago. Earlier this month, Chief Daren Freeman resigned after a video surfaced allegedly showing him make forceful contact with a suspect. Now, acting police chief Matt Issman is out.

Murphy knows those changes at the top are a lot to deal with for the police officers still working.

"Knowing how I would feel in that same position, it would be affecting my morale. But other than that, I don't think it's affecting the job that they do at all," Murphy said.

Reaction to Issman's firing is mixed, but several residents including Rod Ward supported the mayor's decision.

"You got to answer to your boss whether you like it or not," Ward said. "When you work at the pleasure of someone, and Issman worked at the pleasure of the mayor....if it wasn't working it needed to be stopped."

Following the death of Chief DeNardo, Bay St. Louis explored the idea of consolidating the police department with the Hancock County Sheriff's office. It's an idea Ward thinks should be looked into again.

"The city has a lot of liability with guys running around with guns," Ward said. "I would like to see that liability just go to the county."

Other residents like Bill Lady oppose turning police operations over to the county. But, he knows the pressure is on to make sure the next police chief is a right fit for the city.

"I think Bay St. Louis deserves its own police force and I think they will probably pick a good one coming up soon," Lady said. "That will be the answer to these problems."

Push Phillips is now leading the Bay St. Louis Police Department. He's the fifth person in the last 13 months to be in charge of the force.

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