Behind the badge
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller does not know when his department was founded, but Miller, who has been a police officer for 25 years, considers the installment of a Town Marshall in the early 1800s to be the start.
Today the department is a modern, diverse unit comprised of 123 sworn officers and 52 civilian employees. It encompasses several resources ranging from an in-house garage to a bicycle patrol team to South Mississippi’s only bomb squad. The department receives around 2500 calls every seven days. Seventy five percent of these are officer-generated, meaning a police officer found an issue before a citizen called the police. The average response time for the department is about three minutes. Property crimes including burglary, theft and larceny are the most common crimes faced by the city and the Police Department. The city has a very low rate of violent crime, a rare feat for tourist destinations, Miller said.
Other units in the Department include marine patrol, hostage negotiation, patrol division, special response team (formerly SWAT), crime scene investigation, intelligence, a public relations unit and a dive team.
Even with all these resources, the department still needs help.
“It’s really society that does the policing, “ Chief Miller said. “We’re just here to enforce the law.”
“It’s never been about the Police Department working alone,” he added.
Miller also asks the community to help keep the Department aware of what is going on, and to report anything suspicious. In addition, he also reminded the community that the Police Department is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
In order to stay current, the department follows a rigorous training schedule.
Miller explained that Mississippi mandates that all police departments go through 24 hours of continuing education a year. This figure is exceeded by the Biloxi Police Department particularly in the area of specialty training. Biloxi officers attend training on CPR, policies and procedures, new laws, updates of older laws, firearms and more topics. Training occurs at least once a month, sometimes more.
The Department’s outreach stretches in many different directions including Police Explorers, Southeastern Law Enforcement Explorer Academy, athletic programs, Night Out Against Crime, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT), community cookouts and holiday food deliveries to the elderly. Many Biloxi Police Officers are involved in local civic organizations, too.
The Police Department is in the Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center at 170 Porter Ave. The public can call for assistance or come to the Public Safety Center anytime.
The non-emergency phone number for the department is 228-392-0641, and as always, 911 for any emergency.
–Charlie Benton, Public Affairs Intern, 7/2015