Hancock County

Here’s what policing will be like in Bay St. Louis now

Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam
Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam John Fitzhugh

Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam says he believes the city’s policing and criminal investigations will continue as normal while his office oversees the Bay St. Louis Police Department temporarily.

“It will be normal, but it won’t be routine because everything has changed,” he said, referring to Thursday’s death of Bay Police Chief Mike De Nardo.

De Nardo, who was chief for six years, died Thursday of what Adam described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a shot fired behind the police station. Adam said deputies were escorting De Nardo off the premises after he was suspended pending an investigation.

The sheriff’s temporary takeover of the Police Department has raised questions such as whether Adam has authority to take on oversight of the department and if it will stretch the Sheriff’s Office too thin.

“It puts a little burden on our staff, but there’s some people at the Bay St. Louis department that will step up,” Adam said. “As the next few days wear on, everybody will come around and get back to their normal patrols.

“Patrols and investigations will continue and we will guide the Bay St. Louis Police Department until the city decides what it wants to do.”

‘To take some stress off’

A sheriff is sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, Mississippi constitutions and statutes and to protect the people of the county.

“The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of a county,” Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said. “(Adam) is doing what he needs to do to take some stress off the (Bay) police officers.”

The City Council, in an emergency meeting Thursday night, named Bay police Capt. Wes Mayley interim police chief under supervision of the Sheriff’s Office.

“He will report to me and Don Bass,” Adam said. Bass is chief deputy, second in command.

“We’ve gotten some positive feedback from a nice contingency of guys there,” he said of the Bay police officers.

Bay police are holding up the best they can, Adam said. Counselors were brought in to help those who want to talk to someone about what happened.

“Some have taken advantage of it,” Adam said. “Some, well, some of us guys act like ‘we’re better than that and we don’t need it.’”

No gap in law enforcement

District Attorney Joel Smith said members of his staff went to the Police Department after the shooting.

“We are aware of the sheriff’s agreement to assist the Bay St. Louis Police Department to ensure no gaps in public safety,” Smith said. “It is our understanding that this offer is a temporary measure to achieve that specific goal. We do not anticipate that this will impact the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Bay St. Louis Police Department.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and co-workers in their time of loss,” Smith said.