The sudden resignation of Meridian police chief, James Reed, means the city will have to find someone new to lead the police department in the ongoing fight against crime.
Plus a mayor's race this year means whoever wins will be making that appointment. The candidates in the race so far shared what they will look for when hiring a new chief.
The ongoing fight against crime has been led by two police chiefs in the last year. First, Lee Shelbourn and later, Reed. Now Assistant Police Chief James Sharpe is leading the fight until a new chief is named.
"I believe as a city, we have to first look internally to see if there are qualified people that can assume that position," said Democrat Rod Amos. "Are we developing officers to eventually become chief of police? I think that would be a smart approach, to first look internally."
"In looking for a new police chief, we will look within the department and we will also look outside the department," said incumbent Republican Cheri Barry. "Because what we want is the perfect person to lead this community, to make it the safest place we could have in the state of Mississippi."
"I want our officers to be trained and I want whoever is the police chief to be a person who has experience in getting our officers trained so that we can go back to true community policing in our neighborhoods," said Democrat Percy Bland.
The next mayor will definitely have his or her work cut out for them when it comes to getting the city's crime problem under control.
Besides selecting a new chief of police, he or she will have to look outside of the police department and come up with new and innovative ways to take the community back.
"I think the quality of life has deteriorated and we're seeing the fruits of that deterioration," Amos said. "If we can improve the quality of life, better housing, better jobs, better paying jobs."
"But until you're in the box and working under the mayor's rules and guidelines and laws, it's a different story," said Barry. "So what I have done to provide the safety of the citizens of Meridian is to provide a new police station, to put our officers in new cars."
"You can't have three or four chief of polices within three or four years," said Bland. "And have the type of department, the type of continuity, and the type of policing that it's going to take to get our streets back safe."
Meridian's primaries are set for May 7. The general election is June 4.