Despite the untimely death of Police Chief Mike De Nardo and ongoing federal investigations into the city, morale among police officers seems to be recovering.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is still providing law enforcement assistance on an as-needed basis, but Bay PD, for the most part, is back at the helm, Capt. Wes Mayley said.
“Everything seems to be rolling pretty smoothly,” Mayley said. “We’re still collaborating with the S.O., but everybody’s pretty much getting back into the swing of things.”
Patrol officer Sara Reynolds is one of the many officers remaining dedicated to the daily duties of the job.
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“Even with the incidents of the last two weeks, I love this city,” Reynolds said.
Though things are a little different with De Nardo gone, Reynolds loves waking up and going to work. It’s a job she wouldn’t want to trade for anything else, she said.
Though Mayley, the department’s ranking officer, has not technically been named interim police chief, he has assumed many of the chief’s duties.
“I’m remaining in my capacity now,” he said. “Where the chief would normally sign for things, I’m having to sign for them.”
A critical stress team has been providing counseling and other forms of stress treatment to the officers and city employees. The group — composed of retired first responders who are trained to help in the wake of traumatic events — offered its services to the city free of charge.
The city remains under investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal agencies. The feds began looking into allegations of payroll fraud and illegal sales of firearms after De Nardo died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Sept. 8.
The Sheriff’s Office’s is assisting federal authorities in the corruption investigation, Hancock Chief Deputy Don Bass said.
Jason Denham, resident agent in charge of ATF’s Gulfport office, confirmed the existence of the investigation but would not elaborate.
“From this point forward, it’s going to be a joint investigation between Hancock County, ourselves and a couple of other agencies,” Denham said.
Robin Fitzgerald, staff writer, contributed to this report.