Interim Chief's Efforts to Move MPD Forward

Meridian, Miss. Interim Meridian Police Chief Buck Roberts is trying to move the police department forward, in a way, by moving backward.

Less than a week into the job, Chief Roberts has nixed former Chief James Lee's quadrant system. And he's put the old system of districts back in place. The two systems lay out the specific zones that officers are supposed to patrol. Chief Roberts says the quadrant system did not divide the city up evenly, and he believes the system was confusing.

"It was hard on dispatchers to have to look and see exactly what zone and quad they were going to. The officers were a little unsure exactly where the zones and quads were. Districts make it easier. It makes it easier response times," he says. "To me, it makes everything better."

He says this system allows shift commanders to run the shifts like they're supposed to. They determine where patrols should be, based on updated crime statistics.

"We give out weekly reports to the shift commanders to see exactly where the crimes are. And if it's one area being hit more than it should, then a shift commander will shift to that particular area," Chief Roberts explains.

The next step is to bring in more officers. A number of officers quit, retired or were fired during chief lee's tenure. Chief Roberts says the MPD has lost a lot of years in experience during the past several months, and he hopes to see some of that return.

"Some of the ones that left because of previous administrations, I would hope that they would consider coming back. I really don't know of a chief that wouldn't hire them back. I know I certainly would," he says.

Chief Roberts says he believes the changes are already boosting morale at the MPD.