Meridian, Miss. The City of Meridian has a new police chief. It was less than a month ago when Mayor Percy Bland fired Chief James Lee. At Mayor Bland's recommendation, Tuesday morning the city council approved hiring a new chief with a familiar face.
"Assistant Chief Buck Roberts, thank you for your outstanding work as our interim police chief, thank you very much."
That's what Mayor Percy Bland said before officially introducing Benny Dubose for the first time as the new Chief of Police for the City of Meridian.
"Chief Dubose is experienced," said Mayor Bland. "He's well respected, and he's done a great job for the city of Meridian as police chief. So, he was my choice as police chief."
The vote to hire Benny Dubose was four to one. City Council President, Dr. George Thomas cast the only dissenting vote.
"Well, I have a real problem with the police chief not even living in our county. I have a problem with his family member being there (at the department)," says Thomas. "Plus, I want a new direction. It's feels to me like we're going backwards."
From 2003 to 2009 Dubose, who is now 57, served as police chief in Meridian. He was asked to resign after Mayor Cheri Barry took office. She then appointed her own choice to be chief.
"I'll do everything I can, and within my power to make this a safer city to live in," says Dubose. "A place where there's not only a sense of security, but real security.'"
Chief Dubose says he's committed to improving morale within the department, increasing officer numbers and cracking down on code enforcement without harassing residents.
Although he says some changes are likely, Chief Dubose says some current programs such as the 'See Something, Say Something' initiative will stay in place.
"I support for the citizens who 'See Something,' to 'Say Something,' but it goes both ways. If the citizens 'See Something and Say Something' then we need to do something!" says Dubose.
Following Tuesday's appointment, MPD Interim Chief Buck Roberts has been reappointed to serve as assistant chief. As for Chief Dubose, his appointment took effect immediately. His salary is currently set to be $83,500; that's the same amount that he was being paid when he left the department five years ago.