Pass Christian names former Bay St. Louis chief as new top cop

Pass Christian names former Bay St. Louis chief as new top cop

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - Pass Christian is now under new leadership after city officials appointed a new police chief.

Daren Freeman, who was previously the department’s deputy chief for the last 20 months, will take on the role of Pass Christian Police Chief, said Mayor Chipper McDermott. Freeman was named chief at Tuesday night’s board of alderman meeting.

Freeman was appointed deputy chief for Pass Christian in November 2017 less than a month after he resigned as chief from the Bay St. Louis Police Department. At the time, Freeman was accused of holding down a handcuffed suspect by the face during a drug bust.

When Freeman was originally hired in Pass Christian, the city’s attorney said the incident was investigated and it was determined there was no misconduct.

“There was no finding that he did anything wrong on that matter,” Jones said.

Video that reportedly showed the incident, which happened in May 2017, was never released, despite WLOX requests.

Freeman said he has no regrets.

“We’re moving forward and looking to the future,” Freeman said. “We’re happy to be in Pass Christian and glad they’ve embraced us and welcomed us the way that they have.”

Freeman takes over for Tim Hendricks who announced his retirement last month. A big point of emphasis he wants to see continued in the department is strong communication with other agencies.

“The criminals don’t know city limits, county lines or state lines, they go wherever it’s feasible for them,” said Freeman. “Law enforcement shouldn’t be restricted by information, we share information everyday with each other.”

When asked about hiring Freeman in spite of those allegations, McDermott said the newly-appointed police chief had a complete answer that the city’s board of alderman was comfortable with. In Bay St. Louis, the board’s approval is needed to appoint a police chief, said the mayor, adding that six candidates were interviewed and Freeman was the best choice.

According to Jones, since Freeman became deputy chief, the city has not had any issues with his job performance.

“We never had any problems with him whatsoever,” Jones said. "In fact, he goes above and beyond in what he does for Pass Christian.”

Twenty-one police officers are budgeted for the Pass Christian Police Department, and Freeman believes one of the biggest challenges he will face is keeping officers.

“Every agency has retention issues, but we’re trying to inundate them with training to keep them stimulated mentally so that they are attracted to this area because our call volume isn’t as big as some of the larger cities,” he said.

According to Freeman, all the tools are in place for a smooth transition and for Pass Christian officers to succeed.

“Technology wise, I think this department is far ahead of some other departments this size,” Freeman said. “This building is the EOC for this area, and it’s state of the art. Our computers in the cars, the NCIC and the type of cars we have, everything is the top notch.”

Community outreach is a top priority for Freeman, who wants his officers to be available and involved with the people they serve and protect.

“We look forward to working with the community and getting to know everybody. We’ve had a lot of new officers hired and we’re going to work as hard as we can to get them acclimated to the community as well as the community meeting them," he said.

Freeman is the third police chief appointed in Pass Christian in the last 30 years. Freeman will officially be sworn into office at the next Board of Aldermen meeting.

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