Their uniforms and cars show they are Harrison County Sheriff's deputies. But they fight crime and patrol the streets of D'Iberville. For almost 20 years now, the Harrison County Sheriff's Department has been under contract to provide public safety for D'Iberville. The city spends $900,000 a year to cover the salaries for the 17 deputies and support staff.
"And we pay for everything associated with policing the citizens of D'Iberville," said D'Iberville City Manager Richard Rose. "We have a police department. They just wear a Harrison County patch right now."
Rose says D'Iberville is ready to handle its own law enforcement duties. The city is working on preliminary designs for a new public safety building.
"The City of D'Iberville has been negotiating with property owners to purchase some land near the fire department to place a police department," Rose said.
Talk of creating a D'Iberville Police Department started before Katrina hit. But since the storm flooded the substation, and forced officers to move into FEMA trailers, the discussions have picked up steam.
"We want to be independent of the sheriff's department policing. We want that. We want our own police cars, with our own identity," Rose said.
Rose says the city will have to hire additional officers, detectives, and support staff. But he says the quality of policing won't change.
"I think the confidence from the public is still there. It'll continue to be there, even when the uniforms change and the cars get repainted," Rose said.
Rose says the deputies who currently patrol D'Iberville will be encouraged to apply for the city jobs. If the city can buy the land it needs, he hopes to start construction sometime next year.