Bay St. Louis’ top cop, who had a hard fight to become permanently appointed two years ago, has announced his retirement and will be leaving office at the end of July.
Police Chief Tom Burleson has sent a letter of resignation to Mayor Les Fillingame and members of the City Council, saying he is retiring. His last day on the job will be July 30.
Burleson has been a member of the city police force for 25 years. After coming up through the ranks in various capacities, he served as chief of investigations and then as interim chief under former Mayor Eddie Favre.
A schism between Favre and some members of the City Council caused a delay in Burleson’s permanent appointment. He became permanent police chief in 2008.
There are likely to be several contenders to replace Burleson in the chief’s position, for which he is paid $58,000 annually. In his letter of resignation, he recommended that he be replaced by Mike De Nardo, who has been deputy police chief for three years.
De Nardo is a veteran officer who previously served on the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Department in Louisiana. He had filled in frequently as chief during absences by Burleson in the past year or more.
De Nardo is credited with improving policies and procedures in the department. He also researched and wrote policies on the use of Tasers when the weapons were introduced in the department this year.
DeNardo confirmed that he is a candidate for the chief’s position.
Fillingame will recommend a new police chief, and his designee then must be confirmed by the City Council.
The mayor stopped short last week of saying he will recommend DeNardo, but spoke highly of the deputy chief.
And, Fillingame said, “We’re definitely going to look in-house. If your number-two man isn’t ready to be number-one, he probably shouldn’t be there.”
BY: J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo