Sheriff Payne To Present Proposal On Long Beach Police

Long Beach Alderman will listen to a proposal next week that would put the Harrison County Sheriff's Department in charge of law enforcement in the city. Sheriff George Payne will give a presentation at Tuesday's Board of Alderman meeting.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Bass told WLOX News that no decisions will be made Tuesday, but he hopes the board will be open to the possibility of having the Sheriff's Department move in. Bass says he thinks it's a proposal citizens would be happy with. He says he is looking for a smarter, better way to provide law enforcement.

The Long Beach Police Department has been plagued with problems. Tom Bishop stepped down as chief in June 2001 amid controversy after an employee filed a sexual harassment complaint. Mark Dunston was named interim chief, but he resigned in September. Right now, Major Randy Cook from the Harrison County Sheriff's Department is serving as interim chief. Evidence from Long Beach cases has been taken out of the police department's evidence room and moved to Harrison County's storage facilities because a hole in the ceiling was never repaired.

Sheriff Payne said he would give Aldermen a presentation which would include possible costs the city would incur if the sheriff's department were to take over. Mayor Bass says, most likely, Long Beach Police employees would become sheriff's department employees, if Aldermen decide to accept the proposal.

The Long Beach Board of Alderman will meet Tuesday, November 6, at 7 p.m. at Long Beach City Hall.