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Political loyalty not the highest standard for chief

By Staff
Oct. 31, 2001
In putting candidates for Meridian Police Chief through some sort of political loyalty test, Mayor John Robert Smith may not be giving all of the applicants the due consideration they deserve. We have learned over the past few weeks that some outstanding professionals have applied for the job to lead the capable, dedicated police officers who serve the people of this city.
Personal political loyalty seems to be the mayor's No. 1 priority for hiring a new chief. It is reasonable to believe that the most crucial qualifications should be law enforcement professionalism, competence and leadership ability.
We doubt that the increase in armed robberies noted this year is related to the absence of a police chief. Meridian is no more immune from crime than any other city in Mississippi.
But the people of Meridian deserve to have the police chief's position filled as soon as possible. It would reinforce the message that city law enforcement is a serious priority, that public safety remains a critical element in building a better quality of life for all residents.
And, the position must be filled by a competent professional in the field of law enforcement who, first, serves the people.