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Police chief could be named by end of month

By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Nov. 8, 2001
Mayor John Robert Smith said Wednesday that he hopes to appoint a new police chief and a new school board member by the end of November. Both appointments must be confirmed by the city council.
The Meridian Police Department has been without a permanent police chief since early July. Former Chief Gregg Lewis' last day on the job was July 20, although he had been out on vacation for several weeks by that time.
The mayor originally hoped to appoint a new chief by mid- to late September.
In the interim, MPD veteran Benny DuBose has served as acting police chief. DuBose and three other MPD officers have applied for the chief's position Capt. Roger Welborn, Capt. Keith McCary and Lt. John McAlister.
Smith's comments came at his biweekly news conference one day after a group of MPD employees petitioned the mayor and city council in support of DuBose's appointment.
MPD Detective Thom Bittick presented the petition, signed by 61 people who work in the police station. Bittick said he believes in Smith's ability to appoint a good police chief, but said the mayor is being "overcautious."
Decision-making process
Smith said Wednesday he had not seen the petition, but had interviewed eight candidates for the police chief job. He said the candidates were from within and outside of the MPD; he would not release the names of those interviewed.
Asked why he would not name the candidates, Smith said, "Because that is my selection."
Smith said he welcomes input from others.
Smith said he is not surprised it has taken such a long time to name a new chief because it is "the most important appointment that will be made this term."
School board appointment
Meanwhile, the Meridian School Board has had an opening since March when board member James Vance's term ended. State law lets Vance continue to serve until the mayor names a replacement.
Smith said he hopes to nominate a new school board member to replace Vance by the Meridian City Council's second meeting of November.
Smith said Vance is not in the running to retain his position on the board.
The mayor said he has narrowed his decision down two prospective candidates for the job, but would not release their names.
He said the reason for the delay in naming a new school board member is because, "We want to make sure we make the right choice."
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail him at