JACKSON • After serving as the commander of the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol since February 2016, Col. Chris Gillard announced his retirement this week, effective June 30.
“I would like to thank the men and women of the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol along with the employees of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety who worked under my direction as Colonel and Assistant Commissioner," said Gillard, a Tupelo High School graduate.
"We are blessed to have a great team of dedicated public servants who will continue working hard to protect the citizens of our great state. I am especially thankful for the support and prayers over the years from my wife, mother, family and friends who encouraged me along the way.”
After an injury during his first attempt at Patrol School sidelined him, he was determined to go back and graduate in the next class offered, which was Cadet Class 49 in 1994.
Starting with the department 26 years ago as a patrol trooper, Gillard has steadily risen the ranks. He has served as a drug trafficking interdiction officer, executive officer to the Commissioner of Public Safety, and director of Training. He was serving as a lieutenant colonel as director of the Driver Service Bureau when he was promoted to lead the MHP.
Gillard has been recognized throughout his career in law enforcement and in his community as a member of the DUI 100 Club (1994-1996), Outstanding Trooper of the Year (1997), Mississippi’s 25 Most Influential African Americans by Our Mississippi Magazine (2019), and Mississippi Trailblazer of the Year (2019).
“Gillard has been a strong leader within the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and a brave public servant within the Mississippi Highway Patrol dedicated to making Mississippi a better and safer place for all who call our great state home," said Gov. Tate Reeves. "Never letting anything sideline his commitment to protect his fellow Mississippians, it has been an honor to work with him over the years. He leaves behind an impressive legacy and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
In retirement, Gillard plans to continue mentoring young people and providing inspiration.