Lauderdale County, Miss. Meridian's police chief says the city of Meridian is pulling out of the East Mississippi Drug Task Force.
Chief James Lee tells Newscenter 11 the money simply is not there, so the city is removing its only agent within the drug task force agreement it shares with Lauderdale County.
However, Lauderdale County Sheriff Sollie says he is still waiting on a letter from Chief Lee, confirming that the Meridian Police Department is in fact withdrawing from the Drug Task Force agreement. Section 10 of the legal agreement between the city and the county says any party can terminate its participation exactly one year after the agreement took effect, as long as written notice is given 30 days prior to the date of termination.
"We're out of it," Lee says. We can't afford it. We don't have the manpower. You just asked me a minute ago about people quitting, not being here, not doing this. My job is to put officers on the street to protect this city. We can't afford the East Mississippi Task Force."
"We're going to continue to work cases throughout the Meridian-Lauderdale County area," Sollie says. "But we all know that 75 percent of the cases come from within the city of Meridian. The police chief is going to have answer to his constituents about the lack of law enforcement in the area of drug enforcement."
The legal agreement states that violating substance laws is a serious menace to the welfare of the residents in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
Sollie says the county will now have eight drug agents. That number could drop though depending on funding for the coming year.