Off duty Biloxi police officers took part in a "cover up" under the I-110 Thursday. But it's not what you're thinking.
Armed with paint rollers, they battled against graffiti. The officers are making a mark for community pride.
Four off-duty officers traded their pistols for paint rollers. They volunteered their off duty hours to help cover up what vandals left behind. The area under the I-110 near Bayview Avenue is among the favorite targets for all sorts of graffiti.
"I guess it's an easy palette for them to paint here. A lot of easy concrete. A lot of walls and concrete. A lot of pillars. It is a recurring problem. But hopefully this will let us and other officers be more aware and keep an eye out," Officer Michael Brumley said.
Officer John Campbell says gangs often "tag" their territory with certain sayings and symbols. He says such markings send the wrong message to visitors.
"They see the graffiti. The first thing they think about are gangs, and that's an impression we don't want people to have of this city. Gangs don't run this city. The citizens and the good elements of the city run the city," Campbell said.
Although easy to spot after the fact, the officers say catching someone painting graffiti is near impossible. Those who make the marks are usually aware of police presence.
"Because they have lookouts. They wait for a patrolman to leave and then they go ahead and do their marking and they take off," Campbell said.
While graffiti can easily be covered up, the off duty officers readily admit it will never be eliminated. But if their example can help boost community pride, their time spent under the I-110 was well worth it.
"We're not getting paid to do this. This is our free time. But it's a worthwhile thing."