Mayor Bland Comments on Chief Controversy

Meridian, Miss. Two days after Newscenter 11 first reported that Police Chief James Lee had been found in violation of the city's workplace harassment policy, Mayor Percy Bland has made a public comment about it.

Bland had refused to comment on the situation up till now, though he did post a photo of himself and the chief on his Facebook page Wednesday evening.

Mayor Bland says he has not yet made a decision on what will be done about the findings of the Equal Opportunity Officer. The mayor says when it comes to discipline, all relevant factors must be considered, including the context of the comments Chief Lee allegedly made and the safety of citizens. Mayor Bland says maintaining the city's safety holds utmost importance in his decision.

"Very soon I will issue a discipline if warranted, that is warranted under the circumstances, and I will do so such a manner that our police department operates effectively and productively, particularly during this time of increased crime suppression in this city," he explains.

At this point, the mayor says he has not determined whether disciplinary actions need to be taken. He also touched on other issues surrounding the chief of police. He says while the chief is blamed for the terminations of multiple officers, only he as the mayor makes the final decision on who is fired.

"The chief of police can only recommend anything on any of his officers, so some of the comments out there on the chief doing certain things on his officers or to anybody can only happen if there is cause for any of those things, and it still has to go through my desk for my signature," the mayor says.

The police chief has not commented on the rulings against him, but Mayor Bland says his administration is taking the matter very seriously.

The CAO and mayor are continuing to review findings by the Equal Opportunity Officer, in hopes of reaching a decision on what actions, if any, need to be taken by next week.