Jackson County

Official who wanted OS parade canceled called to personnel meeting

Ocean Springs Assistant Police Chief Derek Hoppner waits for a chance to address the Board of Aldermen behind closed doors at City Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016.
Ocean Springs Assistant Police Chief Derek Hoppner waits for a chance to address the Board of Aldermen behind closed doors at City Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. klnelson@sunherald.com

Assistant Police Chief Derek Hoppner, who received a surprised and unfavorable reception from aldermen last week when he called for the city to cancel its popular Mardi Gras night parade, met with aldermen behind closed doors Tuesday.

Hoppner waited in the board room at City Hall, out of uniform, as aldermen went into executive session on just one item — a personnel matter in the Police Department.

Aldermen met first with Police Chief Mark Dunston and then spent more than an hour with Hoppner.

Personnel matters are not discussed with the public, aldermen and Dunston said before the meeting, so it would be unlikely the board would make public the results of the special executive session.

Dunston characterized it as “just a meeting with an employee and the board.”

Hoppner had no comment before the meeting.

Hoppner was a favorite of key aldermen for the position of police chief and was one of the final candidates for the job last year. But he lost to Dunston, who had been assistant chief and interim chief, had more than 30 years’ experience in law enforcement, is an international trainer and is a court-recognized expert in law enforcement.

At a meeting last week while Dunston was out of town, Hoppner gave the Board of Aldermen a memo recommending the city cancel the parade to protect police officers.

Hoppner told the board that officers had been assaulted, though not injured, at the last three night parades. He told the board Dunston supported the cancellation, even though Dunston had not signed the memo.

Aldermen defended the parade and said they would not vote on the matter until they heard from the chief.

At a press conference at the police station Thursday, Dunston and Alderman Chic Cody announced the parade would roll with full support from the Police Department.

Dunston said there would be barricades added and trouble spots would get more attention, but that his police officers were trained to handle the type of incidents Hoppner had mentioned in the memo.

Ocean Springs Police Chief Mark Dunston held a press conference on Thursday, December 8, 2016, to address the issue of whether there was a call to cancel the Ocean Springs night parade. Dunston said it was a miscommunication.

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