An appointment has been made for the position of assistant police chief in Meridian.
Mayor Cheri Barry and Police Chief Lee Shelbourn announced that veteran officer Jeff Lewis would be the new second-in-command at the department.
Lewis was was promoted to that job at the end of former mayor John Robert Smith's tenure, then demoted after Barry took office.
"When I became mayor, I said how important the police department was to my office and it was going to be one my top priorities, and it still is," said Barry.
For the last several months, the administration has been working with Chief Lee Shelbourn to fill the assistant chief position, but this time the six people applying had to take a written exam. With testing complete, Capt. Jeff Lewis has now been given his job back.
"I encourage Capt. Lewis to look at the challenges before him as an opportunity to ensure that the citizens who live in this beautiful city will continue to feel that it is a place that they want to live and raise their children," said Barry.
"It's exciting," said Lewis. "I'm up to the challenges. I think the mayor has several good visions and that's the way we are all headed."
"It was an extensive placement to pick this position. An extremely, extremely important position," Shelbourn said.
Not only was the written test considered, but the candidates went through oral interviews conducted by outside agencies, and their past performance was also reviewed.
"I had to look at every aspect of these officers, look at their backgrounds, their careers and what they have contributed to the city of Meridian," said the chief.
"We reviewed the MPD evaluation procedure for promotions," said Barry. "We decided the past procedures could not show the best choices because key components were missing."
Assistant Chief Lewis says his initial goal is to create unity within the department, a goal the chief says falls in line with his plans for the department.
"The reason I chose Capt. Lewis, he has a 27-year tour of duty in Meridian. All of his evaluations have been exceptional," said Shelbourn. "He comes out tops on the written exam. Again, the totality of the circumstances and what he can contribute is immeasurable."
Lewis is a Meridian native and graduated from Meridian High School in 1977.
He has been with the MPD since 1981. He previously served as captain of operations.
The assistant chief promotion is effective immediately.