Search for Meridian Police Chief Heats Up

Meridian, Miss. Just days after Chief James Lee was fired by the mayor, the search for Meridian's new police chief is starting to take shape.

Mayor Percy Bland has very specific qualifications in mind. He says he needs someone who has been a police chief in a city the size of Meridian, someone who understands the community and the biggest requirement is that he or she must be ready to tackle crime. Bland says drugs and gangs have become a serious issue in the city, and the city needs someone who is prepared to take action.

"The bottom line of it is, I'm not going to make any excuses as to why we can't improve on these things," the mayor says. "We are going to improve, and we're going to get more intelligence out there. We're going to continue to arrest people who are doing wrong in our community."

The city council needs someone they can communicate with. Council vice-president, Dustin Markham, says council members often serve as a go-between for the people and the police.

"In your representation of a ward, you have an understanding as to where exactly officers are needed, what neighborhoods need the most attention, where an officer's presence is paramount and also where it would be good to get officers out of the car and walk," Markham explains.

The mayor says he already has a few candidates in mind for the position, one of which he has confirmed is interim Police Chief Buck Roberts. Bland says he hopes to present his decision for confirmation on Tuesday, May 20.