Grand jury declines to indict fired Meridian police officer

By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
Dec. 11, 2001
Former Meridian police officer Rita Jack has maintained her innocence ever since Sept. 14 when she lost her job amid allegations she was involved in the theft of money and checks at the police station's front desk.
When she appears before the Civil Service Commission today to schedule a public hearing into the matter, she will be armed with one important piece of information she has not been indicted.
District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell confirmed Monday that a Lauderdale County grand jury which met in November considered the case against Jack, but did not return an indictment.
Jack wants her job back.
Internal Affairs investigation
The alleged thefts occurred between February and May 2001. Jack and a civilian employee were suspended shortly after Memorial Day, as two separate investigations began.
The first was an Internal Affairs investigation conducted by Acting Police Chief Benny DuBose, who said in July that suspicion was aroused when bank deposits for money taken in at the front desk for fines and tickets came up short.
The purpose of the Internal Affairs investigation was to determine future employment status only. After a series of in-person interviews and written exchanges, DuBose fired both employees.
Jack appealed to the Meridian Civil Service Commission, but she and her lawyer asked that the commission's final decision be delayed until after a Lauderdale County grand jury met in November.
Criminal investigation
The second investigation into the allegations of theft was a criminal investigation conducted by MPD Capt. Betty Evans.
DuBose had confirmed in July that no charges would be filed against the civilian employee allegedly involved in the thefts but the results of the criminal investigation into Jack's actions were apparently presented to a grand jury in November.
The 18-member panel did not return an indictment against the senior police officer. The district attorney is forbidden by the code of ethics governing members of the Mississippi Bar Association to release any additional information about the grand jury's decision.
DuBose declined to comment until after Jack's appeal to the Meridian Civil Service Commission is complete.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at smonk@themeridianstar.com.

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