The Tupelo Police Department is filled with professional, dedicated men and women who take seriously their oaths to protect and serve our city and the communities that make it up.
But TPD is not without its share of challenges and shortcomings. Like any family, there are some dysfunctions. But when the stakes are as high as they are in law enforcement, dysfunctions must be addressed swiftly and effectively.
A recent review of multiple court records by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal revealed a department with ongoing allegations of sexism, racism and bias that have led to internal factions that often do not get along.
These allegations come from multiple lawsuits and depositions related to unique cases. Those making the claims are former and current officers; men and women; Black, White and Asian. In other words, these are not isolated events, nor are they coming from just one segment of our population. That makes it all the more serious.
And such issues can destroy morale and act to the detriment of the good work done by police officers.
That is why Mayor Told Jordan would be wise to choose an outsider as the next chief of police. While we are certain there are qualified people within the department, there are also people in high-ranking offices who are at the center of many of the legal claims.
Having an outside, independent law enforcement leader come in with fresh eyes and no loyalties except to the mission of the department is the best course of action.
But just hiring someone from the outside is not good enough. The next chief must be given the full support of the mayor and City Council to do what he or she sees fit in addressing any problems or issues. This includes reassigning, removing or firing anyone deemed to be a hinderance to the mission of the department.
We cannot allow current relationships within the department or between city leaders and members of the department to interfere with the work of a new police chief.
The most successful departments are ones where highly competent leaders are chosen and then allowed to lead based on their experience and with input, but not interference, from those around them.
We hope Jordan and the City Council are moving in this direction. Our officers and our city will be well served with this approach.
Editor's note: Daily Journal editorial board community member the Rev. Richard Price sits on Mayor Todd Jordan's police chief selection advisory board. To avoid any conflict of interest, Price had no involvement in this editorial.