by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

Since the 2021 Municipal Election campaign season began back in early 2021, the issue of “diversity and inclusion” has been brought up both during and after the election. In fact, Mayor Jimmy Rafferty, Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot and Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman have mentioned it in public settings on several occasions.

Some of the comments were directed at the Pass Christian Police Department while others were directed at the lack of diversity and inclusion on boards and commissions. One member of the Board also expressed potential concerns about the unfair issuance of police citations in their particular ward.

So what’s the real story when it comes to the Pass Christian Police Department? Is there really a problem or is there a misperception about this matter?

In an effort to bring clarity to this sensitive issue, The Gazebo Gazette contacted Pass Christian Police Chief, Darren Freeman and discovered the following:

Pass Christian Workforce Makeup:
Total Police Department employees: 37
Male: 28/75.68 %
Female: 9/24.32 %
White: 23/62.16 %
Minority: 14/37.84 %
This closely matches the last US Census taken in 2010.

Tickets written by Ward for the period August 1, 2020-August 1, 2021:
1542 Traffic stops during this period.

Traffic stops by race:
White 960/62.26%
Black  487/31.58%
Hispanic 54/3.5
Unknown 20/1.30
Asian  17/1.10
Oriental 3/.19%
Bi-racial 1/.06%

Tickets issued by Ward:
Ward 1  54/22.98%
Ward 2  38/16.17%
Ward 3  97/41.28%
Ward 4  46/19.57

These are the facts as obtained directly from the city of Pass Christian Officials.  Furthermore, these facts were given to each of the Board of Aldermen whereby they were given an opportunity to respond. No responses were offered by the Board.

Pass Christian Police Chief Freeman however did provide an on the record comment, “Our Department is totally dedicated to offering employment opportunities to everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or creed. Furthermore we strive to provide the best law enforcement to all of our citizens regardless of their color, appearance or where they live. I’m extremely proud of our outstanding team because of their commitment to protecting our citizens “.

Based on the factual data provided by the City, perhaps one can surmise that there’s a misperception when it comes to the lack of “diversity and inclusion” in the Pass Christian Police Department.

No records could be found involving police abuse or harassment by Pass Christian Police officers.   Having said that, The Gazebo Gazette has submitted an official Public Information Request to obtain the same information for the other departments as well as Boards and Commissions.

Under the Mississippi Code of Ethics, the city has 14 days to provide any information from this request.