Police Chief Talks about Plans, Part 2

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Meridian's new police chief, James Lee, has been in his new office just a few days, but is already making changes.

Lee says the department will be managed by a team that also includes assistant chiefs, James Sharpe and Buck Roberts.

One change that has already been made is that detectives have lost their $100 a month clothing allowance, replaced by a department-issued uniform.

Lee says there will be more changes coming. One he's hoping for is more officers. He says that's one of the first things he'll request from the mayor and city council.

"We may be able to increase our police department to put more boots on the street," Lee said. "And if we can do that we can get better eyes out there. If we can't do that, then we're going to fight with what we've got."

One major effort, he says, will be connecting with the community. Lee promises the department will do a better job of following up with victims and residents.

"If they help us, we can help them faster," said Lee. "If they let us know what they see, then we'll be able to know how to handle that and combat that. We want them to be assured they can talk to us, and most importantly, we're going to talk back to them, and say we took care of that call, or we answered that response, or you were right on that."

Chief Lee says his years as an officer, a chief, a major, a homeland security director, and especially his faith, have prepared him for whatever comes his way in his new role.

"I worked everything there is to work in a police department, from narcotics to gang units. I've done everything there is to do, so my background leads me to this chair," said Lee. "My experience level leads me to this chair, and more importantly, God helped me get here."

For the last five years Lee has served as bureau director for Mississippi's Homeland Security Office. He has retired from the Air Force, and comes to Meridian with previous experience as chief of police in the towns of Lexington and Pickens, Miss.