His badge may say chief, but the Mississippi Department of Public Safety says Meridian Police Chief James Reed is currently listed as a trainee and therefore, is not a certified law enforcement officer.
"He is not a certified law enforcement officer in the state of Mississippi," Mayor Cheri Barry says. "He has been through federal training, but to receive that Mississippi state compliance, he has to take a refresher course. That is a three week course that is in Jackson, Mississippi."
In a statement to Newscenter 11, the Office of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training, a unit of the Department of Public Safety, says that a person appointed or employed in a law enforcement capacity has two years to complete the training requirements to become a law enforcement officer.
The thing is, Reed began his duties as chief in July. The Department of Public Safety says paperwork for certification should have been filed a long time ago.
"Law enforcement agencies must notify the board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training within 30 days of the date of hire," according to director Robert Davis.
"An application should have been sent in by the city of Meridian by one of our secretaries for an application for him," Barry says. "It was not sent in. It was a clerical error."
Then comes the question, if Reed is not a certified law enforcement officer, should he be able to act as one? Meaning, should he be able to carry a gun?
"Such individuals shall not have the authority to use force, bear arms, make arrests or exercise any of the powers of a peace officer unless: (A) The trainee is under the direct control and supervision of a law enforcement officer; (b) The trainee was previously certified under this chapter; or (c) The trainee is a certified law enforcement officer in a reciprocating state," according to the Office of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training.
Reed was hired in July 2012 to replace outgoing chief Lee Shelbourn.