Moss Point is looking for a new Chief of Police. Late Thursday night, Chief Butch Gager handed in his resignation, saying it was best for the city.
"I have submitted my resignation as of the first of the year... I will stay as chief while a new one is appointed. Then I will step down and serve as a Captain for the remainder of the year," said Gager.
He went on to say that the decision for him to step down was a mutual one between him and city leaders.
The Moss Point Police Department has been under heavy scrutiny since the September 1999 death of inmate Marcus Malone. Earlier this month, a jury acquitted Reserve Officer Steve Strickler of manslaughter charges in Malone's death. Then, one week later, District Attorney Keith Miller dropped those same charges against two other Moss Point Police officers.
Each event, from Malone's death to the aquital, has put more pressure on the department to change. One of the people applying that pressure has been Moss Point-Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark.
In a letter to Moss Point Mayor Frank Lynn, and the Board of Aldermen, dated June 12th, Clark said the NAACP had lost confidence and trust in Chief Gager, and called for his replacement.
"We have not seen any significant changes made in the administration of policies and procedures since the death of Marcus Malone. The number of citizen complaints against the police department should tell you that problems will continue to mount until changes are made," said Clark.
Just last week, Jackson County Reporter Ken Flanagan spoke with Chief Gager about how Malone's death and the manslaughter trial of former reserve officer Steve Strickler has affected the department. Gager said it had opened his eyes to several issues facing the police department.
"It just makes you want to step back and look to see if there are changes that need to made" said Gager during the June 6th interview.
At that time, Moss Point Alderman had already planned to review all of the city's departments, meeting with each city manager, and paying special attention to the police department. Thursday night's meeting between the Mayor, Aldermen, and the Chief was the first of those meetings to take place.
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