Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said he has his pick for a new police chief even if the fate of the department remains uncertain.
The City Council is expected to decide Tuesday night whether to keep the department in city hands or to consolidate it with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
Fillingame said he’s committed to keeping the department independent of the county. He said he’ll announce his choice for a new chief Tuesday night or Wednesday.
At a December meeting, the council explored a possible consolidation with the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Ricky Adam has been overseeing the Police Department since Chief Mike De Nardo shot himself to death outside the station Sept. 8.
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“The dialogue on the Sheriff’s Department side hasn’t gotten anywhere,” Fillingame said. “All they’ve talked about is some generic cost savings.
“We can generate our own cost savings. We’ll just stick with the October budget, which (accounts for) all the personnel and all other members of the department, which we can easily afford.”
Fillingame did not reveal his choice for chief, but did say the candidate is from outside the city.
The appointment of a police chief is a mayoral power; however, Fillingame will need the consent a majority of council members.
He said some council members “are favorable” to his position.
“One of the reasons people come to the city is that we can provide more protection than simply countywide, he said. “We’re shocked by the recent events, but overall, our police department has been tremendous. And it’s critical for any department to have committed leadership, a chief with the experience and background that is necessary.”
If you go
What: Bay St. Louis City Council meeting
When: 4:30 p.m. public hearing; 5:30 p.m. council meeting Tuesday
Where: Bay St. Louis Conference Center
Note: A public hearing about the police department will be held before the council meeting.