Meridian, Miss. Drug crimes are issues that newly appointed Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose says the city cannot afford to ignore. That's why he's reappointing officers to the East Mississippi Drug Task Force.
"I think that the task force is a vital part of this law enforcement community," says Dubose.
Last September then Chief James Lee removed the city's only officer from the force in an effort to save money.
"I don't think that it was ever a problem with the money because the task force is financed with a grant partially," says Dubose, "and we paid our officers' salaries, and provided a minimum amount of money to conduct buys and things like that, but it was never at a great cost to the city other than through manpower allocations."
Chief Dubose says he plans to add two officers to the East Mississippi Drug Task Force next Wednesday. After that he hopes to add at least two more, but at this time it's unknown exactly when those appointments will be made.
Looking to the future, the chief expects work relations between the city and county to continue to improve.
"I think it's going to be a healing process between the police department and the sheriff's department. I think it's going well so far. I talked with Sheriff Sollie and Chief Deputy Calhoun recently; I have a great deal of respect for both of them and I think that we will, as in the past, work well together."
Prior to July 2013 the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department had 8 agents in the East Mississippi Drug Task Force, and the City of Meridian had three. Currently, six Lauderdale County agents work on the force.