Hancock County

Bay mayor will name police chief choice amid consolidation talk

Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame plans to announce his choice for police chief Tuesday or Wednesday.
Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame plans to announce his choice for police chief Tuesday or Wednesday. Sun Herald File

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.

“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 Bay St. Louis City Council voted to allow the Hancock County Sheriff's Office to temporarily take over management of the Bay St. Louis Police Department after the shooting death of Police Chief Mike De Nardo. Video by Amanda McCoy/Sun Herald

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.”

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory

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.