Long Beach aldermen voted Tuesday night to keep the current police force in place. For months, city leaders have considered whether the Harrison County Sheriff's Department should take over law enforcement. Supporters, including Mayor Robert Bass, claimed it would save the financially strapped city more than 600-thousand dollars a year. But opponents argued the numbers were inflated, and that the quality of law enforcement would suffer.
The vote was five to two, with only alderman Holder and Levens voting in favor of the takeover. The mayor's proposal would have cost several Long Beach officers their jobs, so Mayor Bass took time before the vote to voice his respect for those men and women.
"I know you work hard, I am very aware and remember quite well the sacrifices made by officers in that department," said Bass.
A number of Long Beach residents also spoke to aldermen before the vote. One was JoAnne Morgan, the widow of Officer Jim Morgan who died in the line of duty a few years ago.
She said, "Gentlemen I've come to ask you to reconsider the choice of doing away with our police department. Before coming here tonight I went to the cemetery to ask Jim and Steve what they thought of what was going on in our beloved city, mainly because these two men gave their all, they gave their life to protect each one of us."
Several other citizens spoke in favor of bringing in the sheriffs department. John Pierson said, "Even if the savings is only half of what's being projected it would still be 300,000 dollars a year, and therefore in my opinion, justify the consolidation."