Police employee’s letters to Moss Point’s mayor on the staffing shortage

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 9:05 PM CDT
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MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - We’ve told you about the staffing crisis within the Moss Point police department, but what’s the reason behind the department’s low officer roster? Freedom of Information documents we requested appear to point to several reasons.

Two letters to the city’s mayor from police department employees give some insight into the rank and file’s view of what’s happening.

Taking a look around Moss Point, you may notice something is missing. What’s missing is an active police force - a full force.

Right now, there are more than 10 vacancies in the department.

Why are Moss Point police officers leaving the department? Why did so many leave just within the past few months?

These are questions from the rank and file, sent to Mayor Billy Knight after he asked for input.

Mayor Knight made the request on June 9th to police officers. He was asking for one-on-one meetings and candid conversations to understand the true and total picture of where the source of their staffing crisis may lie.

Two employees sent emails. What we’ve learned through that exchange with the mayor is they believed a rumor that the police chief was being fired was one of the top reasons behind the recent mass exodus of officers.

“They are very curious in nature - they see things and hear things and read into things that other people wouldn’t see - and once that rumor was out there it kind of led in the direction is that the chief’s days may be numbered,” Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley said.

“We’re trying to give him every opportunity we can for him to show he has the leadership skills to do that job - he’s still here,” Moss Point’s mayor Billy Knight said.

Even with that, the employee’s emails still focused on the chief’s future and whether this is the right time to make a change at the top. One writing the mayor by saying “honestly sir, the email you sent to our officers seemed to indicate your disbelief in Chief Ashley’s response to the crisis we are facing.”

Another emailer praises the chief saying there is a deep respect for Ashley as a person and a leader.

Both employees point to the lack of support from city hall and list that as the impetus for the resignations.

They also indicate a need for what they call a “step plan” or a way to move up in the department. They say that would give incentive for officers to stay with the department and get more officers back on the streets protecting the community.

Moss Point is making some headway though when it comes to recruitment and retention.

At a Tuesday night board meeting, aldermen approved the hire of a new certified officer.

We’re told by city leaders there were other officers considering neighboring departments; and they’ve now decided to stay with Moss Point.

The city also hopes to approve the hire of up to three more officers in August.

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