Should Officers Be Allowed Back On The Job?

City leaders in Moss Point are divided on what to do about the future of two suspended police officers accused in the death of Marcus Malone.

Earlier this week the District Attorney's office dropped its case against Officers Derrick Welton and Chris Weeks. That decision was made after a jury found reserve Officer Steve Strickler not guilty in the first manslaughter case for Malone's death.

Malone died in September of 1999 when he was pulled over by three white officers for traffic and drug violations.

Welton and Weeks were suspend without pay by the city's Board of Alderman after being charged by the DA office last summer.

"I don't think it is in the best order of the city to leave them there, so I think I'll vote no," Alderman Henry Beard said.

Alderman John Welch says he believes the city must offer the jobs back to the officers.

"If they want to come back, I think they should have that opportunity," Welch said.

The aldermen aren't the only ones divided over what should happen to the officers. Almost every Moss Point resident we talked to knew the names and details surrounding Malone's death.

Moss Point resident Jessical Woods says she disagrees with the jury's decision in the Strickler trial and doesn't think the other two officers should come back.

"No, I don't, because there is a lot of controversy, and I think there is a lot more to that than what meets the eye," Woods said. "I just don't think we need them."

Joseph Erdahl is on the other side of the debate.

"I think if they are qualified to do the job, and they're doing the job within the perimeters or guidelines, I don't see why not. I don't have a problem," Erdahl said.

Others say the decision is not so cut and dry.

"The department needs to look very carefully at the feelings of this issue and the families that have been affected and just really decide whether the officers should be placed here, maybe find a better place for them," Moss Point resident Sally Walley said.

"If the two officers do come back, not only the two officers, but maybe the whole police department should go through some type of training to relate better with the people," Jessie McCorvey said.

Chief Butch Gager told WLOX News last week that he would allow both officers to return if they wanted.

Several Alderman told WLOX News that since this a personnel matter, they will probably met behind closed doors to decide if both of the officer's suspension will be listed.

By Ken Flanagan

Online Producer Glenn Cummins