High-ranking Tupelo police official to leave

TUPELO – Tupelo Police Maj. Ronnie Thomas, the second-highest ranking department official, will retire just weeks after a federal trial that painted him as biased.
Thomas will step down Oct. 31, according to municipal Human Resources Manager Cassandra Moore. He had been with the department since the early 1980s, starting as an officer and working his way up to major where he oversees the investigations division.
Thomas is one of three police majors whose rank is second in command to Chief Harold Chaffin. The others are Anthony Hill and Jackie Clayton.
“Losing Ronnie is going to be a big loss to the department,” Chaffin told the Daily Journal on Friday. “He’s one of the best investigators I’ve ever worked with and he will be missed by this department.”
Thomas was unavailable for comment on Friday.
Recently, Thomas came under fire during the federal court trial of former police Capt. Cliff Hardy for having displayed what some considered racially offense materials in his office.
Thomas reportedly was ordered to remove a picture of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from his office wall, after black officers complained. Forrest is widely considered to have founded the Ku Klux Klan.
Thomas also was the subject of a recent internal investigation after having allegedly taken home confiscated equipment for his personal use. Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Darrell Smith confirmed the investigation, but Chaffin declined to comment.
The incidents in no way influenced Thomas’s decision to step down, according to Chaffin, who has worked with Thomas during his entire career. He said the 62-year-old Thomas had always wanted to retire after age 60.
There are no plans to replace Thomas at this time, but Chaffin said the position will be filled by an officer within the department.

Emily Le Coz and Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

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