BPD’s Douglas named interim drug unit leader

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2007

Brookhaven Police Officer John Douglas was named interimcommander of the Southwest Mississippi Narcotics Enforcement Unitlate last week.

Douglas, who has been deputy commander of the task force forseveral years, said he was offered the position permanently, butasked to serve on an interim basis. As commander, he said, he wouldhave had to resign from the Brookhaven police force.

“I’ve been treated very good at the Brookhaven Police Departmentand it’s hard to leave a job you like,” Douglas said. “I startedthere and I’ll stay with the police department if it comes to achoice. It’s a great job and it’s home to me.”

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Douglas will replace former Commander Brandon Bright, who is onleave until the end of the month. Bright had served as commander ofthe unit for more than three years.

Douglas said he was asked to accept the position by BrookhavenPolice Chief Pap Henderson, who serves on the SWMNEU controlboard.

The control board voted to name him as interim commander Tuesdayand the Pike County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the taskforce, approved the appointment Thursday, Douglas said.

The Brookhaven police officer could not say how long he wouldserve as interim commander.

“The biggest problem we have is funding, and that makes itdifficult for hiring,” Douglas said.

The task force is funded through several grant programs.However, it is becoming more difficult to keep the unitcontinuously funded, he said.

“Especially since 9-11, a lot of funds have been diverted toHomeland Security,” Douglas said. “Our funding over the years hasdwindled away. We’re actively seeking alternative sources to keepfighting the drug problem.”

The unit is made up of the Brookhaven and McComb policedepartments, Pike and Walthall sheriff’s departments and arepresentative from the 14th Circuit Court District DA’soffice.

Each agency supplies one agent to the task force with thedistrict attorney providing an assistant district attorney toprosecute all the unit’s cases, Douglas said. The unit also has afew office personnel.