The Meridian City Council approved the appointment of Lewis Robbins Tuesday morning as interim police chief for the city.
Robbins, who spent 42 years in law enforcement, retired from the Meridian Police Department in 1993.
Over 20 years there, he served as a detective and internal affairs officer, among other positions.
After leaving MPD, Robbins was a patient advocate investigator and director of security and investigations at East Mississippi State Hospital. He then spent 18 years as the chief criminal investigator in the 10th Circuit District Attorney's Office.
Robbins was appointed interim chief by Mayor Percy Bland for up to 90 days.
“I feel like that I can bring a lot to the table as far as...community policing is concerned, accountability, and bring up the morale in the department,” Robbins said following the council's unanimous vote.
Violence remains the main challenge in Meridian, he said.
“It's in neighborhoods and no one is exempt from it,” Robbins said. “We have to do a better job. I want officers in those businesses. I want them in the community, out of those cars, and I want them to take care of community policing this way.”
If he becomes the permanent chief, Robbins said he would want new officers to have the right training and mindset.
“It is about a servant-guardian attitude that we need to portray. Not a warrior all the time, it’s when you have to be,” he said.
The council still needs to vote on a permanent chief and Bland said other candidates will have the opportunity to interview for the position.
“Because of Mr. Robbins’ background and experience, he is the person that I wanted to put up and did put up for interim chief,” Bland said.
MPD Capt. John Griffith has held the leadership role with the department since the resignation of Police Chief Benny Dubose on Thursday.
Griffith is eligible to apply for the permanent position and has expressed an interest, Bland said.
Dubose served as police chief from 2002 to 2009. He came out of retirement in 2014 to return to the post.
Dubose said on Friday that he resigned over a disagreement concerning the mayor's vision for the city, but didn't elaborate on his decision.
“We both came to the same conclusion that it’s probably time to go in a different direction,” Bland said Tuesday. “I thank Chief (Dubose) for his time. He came back out of retirement to serve for me for five and half years, and this city.”
Bland said he has heard the community's concerns about safety.
“We have done a great job as it relates to our statistics and our crime data reports trending downwards, but still, we want to do more,” he said. “We just want people to feel safe here. We want people to come here and shop and spend their money and we want people to want to raise families here.”
–Bianca Moorman contributed to this report.