Petal expands city ticket-writing powers

Petal officials say they're taking a proactive step in serving and protecting the citizens.  The board of aldermen passed an ordinance Tuesday night concerning residents who commit municipal violations. Meanwhile the police department is currently restructuring the force.

Petal has adopted a new ordinance allowing designated city officials to write citations to those accused of breaking municipal codes.  This includes offenses such as littering or noise violations.  Mayor Carl Scott says the new process is easier for citizens who previously would have been arrested.

The new ordinance, effective in 30 days, eliminates initial jail time for municipal code offenders.

"This works kinda just like a speeding ticket where they get their day in court, they get to say their piece and we don't have to go through that big long drawn-out process," Scott says.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Lee Shelbourn says the department is currently being restructured.  That includes the elimination of K9 officers, adding a motorcycle division, and cracking down on drugs.

"The mayor told me he wanted us to be the safest city with the best police department in the state of Mississippi and he wanted to do whatever was necessary to make that happen," Shelbourn says.

Shelbourn says a new unit has recently been created to fight specific crime in the city, but the department isn't ready to discuss it yet for fear of jeopardizing ongoing cases. He does say the entire force is working hard to ensure safety.

"If they speed excessively they can expect a ticket. If they use narcotics in the city of Petal we might be the next one to knock on their door."