Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry is firing back after a story Newscenter 11 aired about the police chief's certification in the State of Mississippi.
Barry admits that Police Chief James Reed is not a certified law enforcement officer in the State of Mississippi. However, in a statement released on Saturday afternoon, Barry says the chief is not violating any laws and is more than qualified for the job. This as the city failed to file the proper paperwork for Reed's certification.
Mayor Barry says that Police Chief James Reed is in no way violating municipal, state, or federal law by serving as Meridian's police chief. However, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety tells Newscenter 11 that while it is not suggesting Reed is violating any law, the department says he is simply not a certified law enforcement officer in the State of Mississippi and is therefore considered a trainee until he is certified within the state.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says while the chief has two years to complete his certification, the department says that the city of Meridian should have filed paperwork requesting certification within 30 days of when Reed was hired. Mayor Barry says there was a clerical error, which resulted in the paperwork not being filed.
Then, there's the debate over whether the chief should be able to carry a weapon. Barry says Reed is a retired law enforcement officer from NCIS and because of this, according to the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004, he may carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, in any state in the nation. However, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety has this to say about officers lacking certification in the State of Mississippi carrying weapons:
"Such individuals shall not have the authority to use force, bear arms, make arrests or exercise any of the powers of a peace officer unless: (A) The trainee is under the direct control and supervision of a law enforcement officer; (b) The trainee was previously certified under this chapter; or (c) The trainee is a certified law enforcement officer in a reciprocating state."
Mayor Barry's entire statement is posted on the WTOK-TV Facebook page.