Jackson, meet your new chief – the sheriff

n Melton taps the county’s top
lawman to lead the city’s law officers.

BY SHELIA BYRD

The Associated Press

JACKSON – When Jackson Mayor Frank Melton went looking for a top lawman for Mississippi’s crime-ridden capital city, he turned to someone who had arrested him.

Just months after the mayor was acquitted on criminal charges of busting up a ramshackle duplex he thought was a drug den, Melton on Friday named Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin the new chief of the Jackson Police Department.

This marks the first time in Mississippi that a sheriff will have a dual role as police chief, and the change is happening in Mississippi’s largest city and county.

McMillin replaces Shirlene Anderson, who was removed as chief by Melton on Wednesday.

It will be McMillin’s job to clean up the mess made by Melton’s micromanagement of the 409-person department that’s suffering from low morale and understaffing. The city of 184,000, has a crime rate nearly twice the national average.

It is a strange political marriage as McMillin’s office has twice arrested Melton – once after the city leader was charged with malicious mischief, burglary and carrying a gun on school property and again on a parole violation. Both men are strong-willed, so butting heads could be unavoidable.

Melton has gotten into legal trouble for unorthodox tactics of carrying guns and cruising the inner city in the police department’s mobile command center.

McMillin, 63, is a no-nonsense sheriff for 16 years and an actor in local theater. He recently won re-election with 60 percent of the vote. He said the police and sheriff’s departments will not merge – and Melton will not control law enforcement.