Pass parade will be four officers short after personnel conflict

Published: Feb. 9, 2018 at 8:15 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2018 at 1:01 PM CST
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PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis leaders say they won't send officers to Pass Christian Sunday to help with crowd control at the St. Paul Carnival Association parade. Why? It depends who you ask.

Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre says his department has staffing issues. So, he needs every officer to stay in the Bay this Sunday and protect his city.

The city's former police chief says that's not true. Matt Issman says he has texts from Bay St. Louis officers who tell him Bay St. Louis withdrew his support because Issman recently sued the city.

Issman became the Bay's acting chief on September 12. Two weeks later, he got fired. And two weeks ago, he filed a lawsuit against Bay St. Louis claiming he was unfairly dismissed.

In between the time he lost his job and the time of his lawsuit, Issman accepted a reserve role with the Pass Christian Police Department. That's where things reportedly get dicey.

Issman tells WLOX News he has proof the new lawsuit is why Bay St. Louis told its off-duty officers they can't volunteer to work at Sunday's Pass Christian parade.

Issman said the proof was in two texts he received from Bay St. Louis officers who volunteered to work the Pass parade. One text Issman shared said, "Officers asked point blank why we can't work the Pass parade. They said it was because of your lawsuit." Another text said, "They had pulled the list for the Pass parade due to your suit...That sucks!"

Issman tells WLOX News he doesn't want to be at the epicenter of what could become a public safety issue. So, he wrote an email Friday morning to Pass Christian chief Tim Hendricks and resigned as a reserve officer.

"I don't want to be a distraction," he said. "I don't want my situation to cause this issue."

Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre says the Issman suit has no bearing on his city's decision to keep its officers at home this Sunday.

"The city is unable to help with parade coverage due to staffing concerns," Mayor Favre said.

Bay St. Louis police chief Gary Ponthieux hasn't been available to answer questions today about Issman's allegations.

When we contacted Pass Christian Police Chief Tim Hendricks about the loss of the four officers and the Issman resignation, he said he wasn't aware of either issue. Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott was also not privy to the staffing questions between the two departments.

What all this means is the St. Paul Carnival Association parade rolls Sunday, and when it does, it might have as many as four fewer officers providing public safety.

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