CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories


Mayor sees no rush in filling police chief post

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

The search for a new Tupelo police chief will be widespread, thorough, and unhurried, Mayor Jack Marshall said Friday.

He has set no timetable.

"We've appointed a fine interim chief in Assistant Chief (Jerry) Crocker," Marshall said. "That buys us a lot of time to find someone. It's going to be a well thought-out and well-reasoned process."

Billy White, the Tupelo police chief since December 1990, announced his resignation Thursday. He has accepted a post with the Jackson Police Department.

The city will advertise the opening in various media nationwide - including such outlets as law enforcement trade magazines, municipal association magazines, the National League of Cities publication, and various newspapers, the mayor said.

As he did before White was selected for the job, Marshall said he plans to "assemble recognized law enforcement experts to help screen applicants."

In that process, Marshall said he asked many state authorities, without telling them his purpose, for the names of people they considered among the top law enforcement people in the state.

"I then contacted them and asked them to serve on the committee and got some takers like that," he said.

Marshall said he will also consult with City Council members, whose confirmation is needed to secure an appointment, throughout the process.

"I think we need their input, because the performance of the Police Department is a direct reflection on them," he said.

As in most key employee hunts, the city will develop a short list from the pool of applicants, and bring the top candidates in for interviews, Marshall said. From those, the mayor will make his recommendation to the City Council.

While White was the first Tupelo police chief to hold a college degree, that won't be an absolute requirement for his replacement, Marshall said.

"That would be desirable, of course, but not completely necessary," he said. The ability to guide an ever improving and professional corps of police officers is the primary factor, he said.

"We're looking for someone with strong, proven leadership abilities. We'll put very strong emphasis on experience and administrative capabilities. To a great extent we need a manager," Marshall said.

The mayor added he expects to see applications from several current Tupelo officers "and we encourage it."

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