TUPELO • The police department’s Deputy Chief Allan Gilbert is retiring from his post and will take a job as chief of police in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Gilbert confirmed to the Daily Journal Wednesday that he’ll retire from his position as the number two ranking officer in the Tupelo Police Department at the end of December.
“It’s bittersweet because I love the city of Tupelo and this police department,” Gilbert said. “I’ve been be honored to serve here, and it’s given me a lot of opportunities.”
Serving on the Tupelo police force since 1994, Gilbert has been deputy chief since late 2013, when he was named to the post by the, at the time, new Chief of Police Bart Aguirre.
Before that, Gilbert variously served as a patrol officer, training coordinator, school resource officer, Crime Stoppers coordinator and a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Though he’d long thought he would end his law enforcement career in Tupelo, Gilbert said he couldn’t say no to this latest opportunity to advance his career.
“God has blessed me with such an awesome opportunity to go to Siloam Springs, and I am ready to be a chief,” Gilbert said. “It’s an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
Siloam Springs is a community of a little over 16,000 in northwest Arkansas.
Last year, Gilbert interviewed to be chief of the University of Mississippi’s on-campus police force. He was named one of four finalists and advanced to a public interview phase.
Aguirre praised Gilbert for his time in Tupelo.
“Allan has been a friend, co-worker and valuable member of the TPD family for over 25 years and he will be missed. We wish Allan and his family health and safety in this new chapter of their life.”
The departure will create a vacancy within the upper ranks of the TPD administration, but Aguirre – himself a longtime member of the Tupelo force – believes his department is well equipped to operate effectively.
“We have a great team in place and I am confident in our abilities to continue to provide the high quality of policing that Tupelo expects,” Aguirre said.
Gilbert’s tenure as deputy chief has coincided with times of tragedy and tumult as well new initiatives for the department.
In December 2013, a few months after Aguirre and Gilbert assumed their leadership roles, Tupelo police officer Gale Stauffer was shot and killed in the line of duty, while officer Joseph Maher was injured.
In summer 2016, a Tupelo police officer fatally shot and killed a local man following a traffic stop, leading to controversy and protests over the department’s use of force.
Mayor Jason Shelton’s administration ultimately created an advisory board of local community members to serve as a liaison between the community and local law enforcement.
Gilbert has been a key figure at those advisory board meetings, briefing members on department policy and advocating on behalf of the department.
His has been a loud voice speaking in favor of the department and has often insisted the department is not operating in a “rogue” fashion.
A series of recent lawsuits have also exposed internal personnel fissures in the department, including allegations that promotion decisions are infected by cronyism and bias.
Those fissures could loom as the department moves to replace Gilbert.