Meridian, Miss. The firing of one of the most well-known officers on the Meridian police force has certainly gotten a lot of people's attention.
Social media has lit up over the last 24 hours with discussion of the termination of Capt. Dean Harper, spokesman for the department, chief of detectives and a 23-year veteran of the MPD. Some city officials are also watching closely.
Police Chief James Lee told Newscenter 11 he is unable to confirm or deny that Harper was terminated. But Harper himself posted on his Facebook Monday that he had been fired, effective Friday, Oct. 25. He did not share a reason for it.
Meridian Ward 2 city councilman, Dustin Markham, says he knew Harper to be a good officer, and his termination leaves him concerned with the level of officer turnover.
"At the point of the budget process, the city council allocated enough money to accommodate those officers that were already there, as well as hire new officers," said Markham. "We have to find some way to control the retention rate and actually increase the retention rate. We can't have this high turnover of officers because, at that point, it puts our citizens at stake."
When asked about recent controversies within the Meridian Police department, city council president, Dr. George Thomas, of Ward 1, previously said there needs to be more transparency.
"Maybe there needs to be more communication here. Why are people leaving? Why are we hiring new people?" asked Thomas in an earlier interview. "The new schedule changes and things like that, maybe we need to know more about it. So I think it is going to be a topic for discussion."
Ward 4 city councilwoman, Kim Houston, says changes are something you can expect to see with new leadership.
"We have a lot of issues with crime, so we've got to make sure we've got the right people in place as we move forward to make sure that the changes we want to see happen are changes that are really pushing us in the right direction," said Houston.
Newscenter 11 has filed a freedom of information request to find how many police officers have been fired or have resigned in the past few months.