Meridian Police Chief Lee Shelbourn announced his retirement late Wednesday. He has been chief in Meridian for three years but has a long law enforcement resume.
With 42 years invested, Shelbourn says the decision to retire was strictly for personal reasons.
"I have heard that the mayor's running me off. I have heard that the CAO and myself got into a disagreement. I've heard so much and that has absolutely nothing to do with it," Shelbourn said.
Shelbourn says his decision to retire is strictly based on family.
"I've got a 5-year-old grandson I want to spend time with, and I guess that's the most important thing in my life," he said. "I want to make sure that he's got a quality life; making sure that he's got a male in his life, a mentor that would direct him in the right direction."
Just months away from turning 65, Shelbourn says he's proud of what the department has accomplished since he arrived three years ago.
While working here, Chief Shelbourn says he has no regrets. He says that records from April show that, overall, crime numbers within the city are the lowest they've been since 2007.
"We've got some awfully big shoes to fill," said Mayor Cheri Barry,
Barry says she will ask Shelbourn for input in the search for his replacement. However, the chief says that input will be limited.
"I have no preference. I'm not going to put any names on her desk," Shelbourn said.
'We'll move the process along very quickly," said Barry. "There's no sense in waiting. We have good police officers that we'll be looking at and two good assistant chiefs. If we have to go outside the community we'll do that. It is wide open."
At this time, Barry says a deadline to appoint a new chief has not been set.
Shelbourn was previously chief of the Petal Police Department. Before that, he spent 26 years training officers for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Ten of those years were spent at the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.