Keith Davis turns down job as Moss Point police chief

Keith Davis turns down job as Moss Point police chief

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point Police Department is once again searching for a police chief. Keith Davis announced Friday that he would not be accepting the position.

Davis confirms that he will not take the job and will instead stay on as the chief of marine patrol for the Department of Marine Resources. According to Moss Point Mayor Mario King, negotiations between Davis and the board of alderman fell through.

Davis' decision was announced after a special meeting of the board of alderman, which the Mayor called very emotional.

Shortly after news broke that Davis would not be taking the job, King took to Facebook Live to talk about the city's upset with his constituents. In that video, the mayor talked about a disagreement between himself and Alderman Sherwood Bradford on Tuesday.

"There were some things that were said and things that were done that can't be taken back," said King.

That disagreement, along with some other issues in the city, is why King said he believes Davis decided to turn down the job.

"When you ask me why he didn't take the job, I think honestly the actions and culture and the atmosphere that he witnessed over the last few weeks and his experiences the last time he took this job has created some very difficult waves for him," said the mayor. "I think that overall, he just couldn't handle it."

In King's Facebook Live, he said the board of alderman and the city's new human resources employee worked hard to bring Davis back as the police chief for Moss Point. Up until Friday, King said he believes Davis was fully committed to taking the job.

"I think that he was all in when he did the press conference and I think he was all in when he did the media thing (Thursday)," said the mayor. "We couldn't give him enough cushion to make him feel safe enough to join our team."

The mayor added that the police chief and fire chief positions are appointed by the board with the mayor calling the vote.

"We have no control whether somebody quits their job or not," said King on Facebook. "When we appoint a job, all we do is appoint and give a start date. It's up to them whether they start that date or not."

In a statement to WLOX, Moss Point Alderman Wayne Lennep said he was very sorry to hear that Davis would not be taking the job.

There have been many conversations and negotiations over the past couple of weeks in the effort to bring my friend, Keith Davis back as the police chief in Moss Point.  I wish we could have made it happen. 

As those conversations began to take shape, Chief Davis saw and even stated that the mayor and board of aldermen are committed to public safety in the City of Moss Point.  Every vote and request in meetings concerning the position and future of the police department were agreed to unanimously.  

I still believe in my heart, and as Keith previously noted, that we are genuinely sincere about changing the law enforcement perception in the city. 

But, somewhere along the way, he obviously saw some things that concerned him and made him question whether we could fulfill our end of the deal.  I guess we just were not able to be fully convincing enough for a man to give up a great job and trust us with his future.  I cannot blame him for that.  That is on us, and I wish him well.

It’s like Keith also said, our city is hurting right now- our community is hurting, and we’re going to have to give it all that we’ve got to fix this problem.  He was right about that. 

He was right about another thing too- this is not just about one person, or the Mayor or the Board.  It’s not just about a new police chief coming in.  This is about a community standing together, bonding together, and saying enough is enough.

We still need our citizens, friends and neighboring communities to stand with us.  Something else Chief Davis said is still true: “You’re either with us or you're against us.”

To Keith I say, stay safe out there on the beautiful south MS waters, my friend.  The DMR is in good hands.  We’ll be seeing you. 

-Alderman Wayne Lennep

Davis told WLOX he's been advised to let any comments about why he couldn't work out an agreement to become Moss Point's police chief to come from city leaders.

Now, with three murders since the first of the year still unsolved in Moss Point, the mayor and the board are once again putting their efforts into searching for a new police chief.

In the meantime, Davis will stay on in his current position with DMR. However, Davis has said he will assist in the search for a new police chief.

"Chief Davis and Moss Point were not able to come to an agreement," said DMR's director Joe Spraggins in a written statement to WLOX. "He will remain the Chief of Marine Patrol for this agency."

The announcement that Davis would be taking the job as police chief was made Feb. 12 when he was introduced at a press conference as the city's new chief of police by the Mayor. At that same press conference, Davis addressed the citizens of Moss Point, saying, "Moss Point, I stand with you tonight and I say let's fix this problem. I initially told the members of the board I was not interested in the position, then I was remembered by my idol Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He talked about the road. 'I'm tired of picking up people on the Jericho Road. I'm tired of seeing people battered, bruised and bloody."

Davis was set to replace Calvin Hutchins, who resigned as police chief on Feb. 9 and is now the chief of law enforcement for Pascagoula-Gautier School District.

Davis previously served as Moss Point's police chief for three years before stepping down in 2014. Back then, Davis told WLOX News Now the decision to resign wasn't one he came to easily, but he couldn't see eye-to-eye with then-mayor Billy Broomfield.

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