Wiggins Leaders Strengthen Police Department After Officers' Deaths - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Wiggins Leaders Strengthen Police Department After Officers' Deaths

Wiggins Police Chief Buddy Bell has spent the past month rebuilding his shattered department.

"I lost two officers that night," says Bell. "Two officers chose to leave the police department after the shooting."

That cut Bell's manpower in half, and those remaining officers are still grieving the deaths of 24-year police veteran Odel Fite and his young partner 23-year-old Brandon Breland.

"The personnel on staff are getting counseling and things to help them cope with their feelings, emotions, and everything else," says Bell.

Meanwhile Chief Bell, with renewed support from city officials, has made four new hires and embarked on a plan to overhaul, his department to make it stronger and safer.

"The Board of Aldermen, at my request, has allowed me to equip my entire Wiggins Police Department with tasers. I've asked the board for additional personnel, three men, which would allow me to put one extra man per shift."

Bell says this is not only in reaction to the deaths of two of his officers, but also a realization by city leaders of the increased workload on his small staff.

"This year verses last year, we're up about 25 percent, as far as calls."

And every call carries the memory of their fallen comrades, whose legacy will be a bigger and better protected police department.

by Don Culpepper

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