The Metro Narcotics Task Force, which is made up of four law enforcement agencies in the Pine Belt, is losing two of its key members.
The task force was previously made up of officers from Forrest and Perry County Sheriff’s Departments, Petal and Hattiesburg Police Departments, with the commander, Phillip Hendricks being employed by Forrest County, all under the direction of Sheriff Billy McGee.
Perry County Sheriff Mitch Nobles said the method being used no longer works for his department.
“We were paying for our salary, the maintenance of the vehicle, the benefits of the officer and what we were getting out of it, it just wasn’t feasible for us to stay in,” Nobles said.
Perry County officials filed their withdrawal letter from the task force last month, and it goes into effect Nov. 3.
The withdrawal letter reads:
“Please accept this letter as formal notice of the withdrawal of Perry County, Mississippi and Perry County Sheriff from the Metro Narcotics Task Force. This withdrawal will take effect thirty (30) days from the date of this letter. Please advise us if any administrative steps, such as inventories or other related matters need to be commenced prior to our withdrawal date. It is our opinion the Metro Narcotics Task Force has helped immensely in the battle against illegal drug distribution and use in the Pine Belt. However, it appears due to current funding mechanisms, the current model is no longer effective. We look forward to new methods of even greater cooperation for the benefit of our citizens.”
“So now, officially starting tomorrow we will be self sufficient, Perry County will have its own narcotics unit, and we’re going to be self sufficient, do everything on our own in house here in Perry County,” Nobles said.
Petal Police Chief Leonard Fuller said his department has pulled out as well.
“We’re going to go in a different direction now, and no longer be part of the Metro Narcotics Task Force, we’re going to utilize that position towards our patrol division,” Fuller said. “You know the seizures were always split up in different ways and now if we make any seizures all that will go toward the operation of the Petal Police Department.”
Sheriff Nobles said he believes his department will benefit more from keeping the narcotics operations just inside the county.
“Getting out of the Metro Unit, having our own unit, we will benefit more from seizures of drug arrests anything of that nature, it would benefit our department better in the long run,” Nobles said.
Chief Fuller added that his department makes around 20 felony arrests a month.
“If there is a bigger case we are working, or if we need any outside help, we have talked with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) and they will help us with whatever we need,” Fuller said.
Sheriff Nobles echoed those remarks regarding MBN.
“Anything we need from the Bureau of Narcotics, they are willing to help,” Nobles said.
According to Hattiesburg Police PIO, Lt. Jon Traxler, Hattiesburg officers are still a part of the task force.
Forrest County Chief Investigator Nick Calico said the task force would continue to operate as always.