Some Diamondhead Residents Say City Living More Secure - - The News for South Mississippi

Some Diamondhead Residents Say City Living More Secure

Several upcoming town hall meetings may help thousands of Hancock County residents sort out their feelings about whether Diamondhead should become a city. In the meantime, some neighbors are already taking sides on the incorporation issue. 

The people who said they're in favor of incorporation all gave public safety as their top reason. Right now a private security team patrols Diamondhead. Many Diamondhead residents say they want police protection for themselves and their neighbors.

Frisly Garcia says when he moved to Diamondhead, most of the people living here were retirees, like himself. But over the years, that's changed.

"Our neighborhood is changing a lot," said Garcia. "It used to be totally a retirement community. Now there are a lot of kids, and with kids come problems with parents working full time and not having all the time in the world to pay attention to what their kids are doing."

Russell Mayeur, Jr. agrees.

"Because of the influx of new residents, younger families coming in with teenagers, we're having problems with some of the vandalism," he said.

Residents say they know the root of the problem. Diamondhead's main road - Golf Course Drive - is public, so the Hancock County Sheriff has authority over it. But the other 90 miles of roads are private, and deputies can't patrol. Some neighbors say becoming a city would provide better security.

"We would have a real police force, not just a security out here," said Mayeur. "The security element out here just handles mostly traffic violations. They have no arresting authority. Any traffic violation they do, you get a ticket. They hand it over to the POA and the POA, collects on the fines. But with a police force, with arresting authority, it would give more security."

According to the Property Owners Association, the security team is made up of three people including one dispatcher and two guards with patrol cars. The guards cannot carry guns or issue enforceable tickets to non-Diamondhead residents. If they investigate an incident and determine state or local laws have been broken, the guards must call the Sheriff's Department and wait for deputies to respond.

Diamondhead resident Mary Street said, "I think the security could improve if we had our own police force and, of course, you have your own mayor and all the other things that go along with an incorporated area."

The president of Property Owners Association says the covenant that governs Diamondhead would still be in place even if it were to become a city. He says that agreement doesn't expire until 2020.

by Danielle Thomas

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