Jackson County

Moss Point moving forward on police chief to replace Art McClung

Moss Point is moving ahead with candidate interviews for a new police chief for the city.
Moss Point is moving ahead with candidate interviews for a new police chief for the city. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

The city is interviewing at least six candidates for Moss Point police chief, but the current interim chief, Brandon Ashley, is not one of them.

Ashley still answers the phone as Deputy Chief Ashley, the role he had before he stepped up to fill the vacancy when former Moss Point Chief Art McClung was terminated but later allowed to resign last fall. McClung was picked up by Pascagoula police for speeding and admitting he had had a drink.

“I didn’t put in for chief,” Ashley told the Sun Herald, because of the uncertainty that the city elections in May could bring to the job. Under state law, any appointee now would have to be reaffirmed by the new administration after city elections. The municipal election primaries will be May 2. A runoff, if necessary, will be May 16, and the general election will be June 6.

“I want to continue my career in Moss Point,” he said. “I live in Moss Point. I feel comfortable with deputy chief. I don’t want to throw myself out there not knowing what’s going to happen in six months.”

The city, however, is moving toward a hire.

Ashley explained in a formal statement: “If I had applied and been selected as the chief, I would become an at-will employee of the mayor and Board of Alderman. ... I could be replaced with the change in the leadership of the city.”

The city has interviewed all but one of the six candidates. The last one is set for mid-January. Aldermen meet again Jan. 17.

The one they hire will be the city’s third chief in two years; eighth since 2000. And recently, the city also has dealt with an investigation into spending from the police department benefit fund, intended for community events.

On the list of candidates for police chief:

▪ Christopher C. Canaski, who lives in the Kiln and works at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. He’s a former police chief for Cordova, Alaska.

▪ George Chaix, who lives in Biloxi, a corporal and crime scene supervisor for Biloxi Police Department.

▪ Moss Point Police Cmdr. Stacey V. Deans, who lives in Ocean Springs.

▪ Louis C. “L.C.” Fairley, who lives in McClain, a former police chief of New Augusta, ran for sheriff of George County but did not win.

▪ Joe Sellers, former Moss Point police officer, who lives in Moss Point.

▪ Lamar Underwood, former Pascagoula police detective, who lives in Moss Point.

Moss Point police chiefs

  • 2000-2002 -- Butch Gager
  • 2002-2005 -- Michael Ricks
  • 2005-2007-- Demetrius Drakeford
  • 2007-2008 -- Fred Gaston
  • 2011-2014 -- Keith Davis
  • 2014-2016 -- Art McClung
  • 2008-2011 -- Shiela Smallman

(Does not include interim chiefs)