Special Assignment: A Conversation with Chief Chris Read
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Police officer arrests, corruption allegations, unstable leadership and low morale weakened the Meridian Police Department this year.
Now, there’s renewed hope under the veteran leadership of newly appointed Chief Chris Read.
“The only way for me to bring confidence back to this department is for me to be transparent. Period. That’s it plain and simple. We are going to be transparent,” Read said.
Read knew he stepped into a challenging situation when he was appointed chief in October. Police officer arrests and indictments, terminations, and allegations of corruption made news headlines this year.
Low morale was a problem inside the department and the community questioned the department’s integrity. Read is working to rebuild the tarnished image of the police department. Read has the experience and the skills to turn things around at MPD. His story begins in the Pine Belt.
“I graduated from West Jones High School in Laurel, Mississippi in 1988. In 1989 I moved here to Meridian. I got a job at NAS Meridian as an aviation contractor. I worked there for 11 years,” Read explained.
Read knew he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement after he enrolled in MPD’s civilian ride-along program. He joined the force in March 1999.
“Between 1999 and 2006 I worked street patrol and was a K9 handler. I left in 2006 when I was hired by the State Department. I went overseas to Iraq as a bomb dog handler and worked a checkpoint. I came back to Meridian Police Department,” said Read.
Read created MPD’s first drug interdiction unit when he returned. Read says drugs and crime are a problem in the Queen City like in many other communities. One of Read’s top priorities is making Meridian a safer place to live and work.
“Other towns and cities have the same issues all over the country. We just don’t follow their news and their social media. One of the main differences is that our social media is able to get the information out instantaneously,” Read said.
Chief Read says he has an open-door policy. Read wants the community to hold he and his officers accountable.
“We welcome it. Please contact me. They have my number. They have my personal number and I talk to them on a daily basis. If there’s anything, then I welcome them to come in,” explained Read. “I’m all about integrity. I’m all about being held to a higher standard, which all law enforcement are whether they like it or not or agree with it or not. They are going to conduct themselves in that manner.”
Read says he’s brought stability back to the department. Morale has already improved. He tells us he’s gotten many calls from retired, veteran officers who want to re-join the force.
“I think it’s the fact that we now have a permanent department head. Instantaneously creating that stability in the administration causes that stability throughout divisions in the department,” Read said.
Read believes the department and the city of Meridian are getting back on the right track
“Others are onboard that are supporting this administration. They are excited about the direction we are finally going. It’s like a sigh of relief,” said read.
If you would like to see the entire conversation with Chief Chris read, it’s attached to this news story.
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