Meridian Star

February 20, 2013

Council members want probe into chief's resignation

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Three of the five Meridian City Council members want to delve deeper into the reason why former Meridian Police Chief James Reed resigned.

    Jesse E. Palmer Sr. of Ward 4 said he wants to find out what happened to cause Reed, who was appointed chief Aug. 8, 2012, to abruptly hand in his resignation Feb. 4.

    "I think he would reconsider and take back his position as chief if he had the chance," Palmer said after Tuesday night's council meeting at Meridian City Hall. "He has said he doesn't want his personal business put out there for all the public to know so we will try to respect that."

    The point of Reed possibly requesting members of the city council to conduct an investigation into the reasons behind the resignation brings up several issues, one of which Palmer expressed strongly, concerning the open meetings law that prohibits members of a governing body from meeting in private about an issue that the public has a right to know about.

    "I don't give a dime about the law," Palmer said. "I think it is the worse thing to happen, ever."

    Council President George Thomas said Palmer, Mary Perry and Bobby Smith have expressed their desire to form a committee to try and ascertain why Reed, whom Palmer considers to be a well qualified person to lead the MPD, felt strongly enough to resign his position. Thomas, however, questioned the authority the committee would have in such an investigation.

    "They wouldn't have any power at all," Thomas said. "This is a personnel issue and one in which the person in question resigned. We, as a city council, can't get into this. They can form their committee but they can't do anything about it. He resigned."

    In other council actions, the members passed an order authorizing the execution of Venue Use Agreements with the State Games of Mississippi. Caroline Smith, the director for the State Games of Mississippi, thanked the members for their continued support of the games and told them the events generated about $5.6 million into the local economy.

    "Your support through 21 years has been very important to Meridian businesses and to those who participate in the games," Smith said.

    A resolution requesting the city to be added to the Lauderdale County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan was tabled when Bobby Smith told other members he couldn't vote for something he knew nothing about.

    "We didn't even have any discussion in a work session about this so I can't vote on this," Smith said.

    Tim Miller, the chief administrative officer for the city of Meridian and who was present in the absence of Mayor Cheri Barry, told Smith and the other council members this was the same basic plan as was approved five years ago.

    "If you want time on this the grants tied to it can wait a little longer," said Miller.

    The council members then approved to table the measure for two weeks until more discussion could be conducted.