2 policemen leave office after probe involving bail firm

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Vicksburg police officers have resigned their positions following an investigation into misconduct involving a bail bonds company.

L’Jamarro Peters and Shawn White resigned June 3, according to files obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen accepted their resignations, without naming them publicly, in a closed session June 4, but cited an ongoing investigation in declining to release the names.

Mayor Paul Winfield, who was not at the June 4 meeting, said Peters and White were under investigation by internal affairs before they resigned.

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When asked how their actions involved a bonding company, Winfield said he was uncertain.

“I see this more as unethical behavior rather than illegal behavior,” Winfield said. “Of course, our department has zero tolerance for that type of action.”

Police Chief Walter Armstrong declined to talk about the resignations or elaborate on the investigation but said no outside agency is investigating the former officers.

Armstrong declined to identify the bail bond company, and Winfield said he was uncertain of the company’s name.

About 25 bail bond companies are listed and regulated, as required, with the Mississippi Insurance Commission, but only five or six are active, Commissioner Mike Chaney said.

A company caught participating in illegal or unethical activity could lose its license and face fines, he said.

“We’re pretty tough on bail bondsmen,” Chaney said.

If any criminal activity is discovered, he said, the case could be turned over for prosecution.

“All I would do in a case would be to investigate the bail bondsman. I have the authority to go further but, generally speaking, we leave that up to the district attorney or attorney general,” he said.

Chaney would not confirm or deny an investigation in Warren County nor would the Attorney General’s Office. District Attorney Ricky Smith said his office was not currently investigating.

Peters began working for VPD Feb. 4, 2008, and White began work Jan. 4, 2011. Both worked on the same shift as recently as March, according to a police roster.

Attempts to reach Peters and White were unsuccessful.

Peters gained recognition in 2011 after he and another officer stopped a woman from jumping into the Mississippi River from the westbound lane of Interstate 20 bridge.