With current Police Chief David Lancaster planning to retire from the police department at the end of the year, the race for Chief of Police has so far proved to be a heated one.
Candidates Fred Gooch, Ralph Dance and Ben Gann graced the stage at Jacinto to address the public on ways they can improve the city’s police department.
Gooch, who currently serves as K-9 officer and juvenile officer, spoke for the first time in front of the historic Jacinto Courthouse.
“I am not a politician. I am a police officer and police is what I want to do,” said Gooch. “One of the biggest problems I see right now is our lack of officers in the school system. The children are the future of this city and should be protected.”
Gooch also believes citizens should know the police officers who serves the public.
“If the citizens of Corinth know the police officers by name, it will improve the trust in the department and that is very important,” Gooch added.
Current Detective Captain Ralph Dance shared with the crowd he has investigated over 500 cases, including murders and burglaries during his 24 years at the local police department.
“I have over 2,500 hours of in-service training, which is unmatched by most candidates,” Dance said. “I have worked hard for this city and, if elected, promise to work even harder as police chief.”
Dance, who worked for more than five years as a criminal investigator for the DA’s office, said he plans to use the knowledge for solving crimes in the police department.
“I am well trained and highly experienced and ready to protect the people of this city,” he said.
Gann currently services as a police captain at the police deparment.
“I started at Corinth PD in 1995 and have been promoted up the ranks,” said Gann. “I have the knowledge, skill and ability needed to manage a complex law enforcement organization.”
Gann said he will be a visible, hands-on chief with an open door policy.
“I will directly communicate with the residents and businesses to discuss community concerns and understand what is most important to the citizens,” he said. “I will also work toward establishing and maintaining a good working relationship with all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, especially the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department.”
All three candidates believed continued training for officers is very important.
Democratic candidates Dance and Gann go head-to-head in the primary election on Sept. 16. The winner will move on to the general election on Oct. 14 to face Republican candidate Gooch.
Other prospective candidates still have time to declare candidacy. The official deadline to submit required paperwork is set for 5 p.m., on July 18.