CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
WHITE GAINED RESPECT OF THOSE HE WORKED WITH
By Cynthia M. Jeffries
Tupelo Police Department employees were consoling each other Thursday after finding out that they are losing their boss.
Tupelo Police Chief Billy White announced he is stepping down effective Feb. 29 from a position he has held for six years. White, 39, has accepted a job with the Jackson Police Department where he will be the director of training and standards.
“I’m certainly going to miss him,” said Margaret Cooper, coordinator of the Northeast Mississippi Crime Stoppers program. “He’s been an excellent boss and friend.”
Those sentiments were echoed by many of the 131 people who are employed within the Tupelo Police Department.
“I think he has been good for this department,” said Harold Chaffin, chief of the department’s Detective Division. “He’s made a lot of improvements. He’s leaving us in good shape. I have a lot of respect for him É and I hate to see him leave.”
White delivered the news to his rank-and-file officers after a news conference to announce the move. But by the time of his 4:30 p.m. meeting with his officers, the news of his departure had already trickled through the department.
Maj. Larry Presley, commander of the department’s Patrol Division, said he admired White because of his involvement in police work. White did have many administrative tasks, Presley said, but he was not content to just sit behind a desk.
Often, White was seen in uniform at hostage situations and standoffs, assisting with crowd control, or helping his officers track down an armed robbery suspect. He also did a lot of public speaking.
“He was a busy person,” Presley said.
Lt. Robert Hall, commander of the department’s roving SOG task force, said White always had the door of opportunity open for anyone.
Hall said White was also receptive to gripes, both internal and external.
“If we had a problem, he was the first one to listen,” Hall said.
Capt. Scott Sandefer, commander of the North Mississippi Narcotics Unit, was surprised to hear his boss was leaving, but said he could understand White’s desire to make a career move.
But White’s accolades did not come just from within the department.
“I think they are losing a fine, professional officer,” said Lee County Sheriff Harold Ray Presley. “I hate to see him go.”
Ward 6 Councilman Perry Thomas said: “I think (Police Chief Billy White) has improved our department and made if a more professional one. We hate to see him go. But it makes me proud to see that we have someone other people want.”
White said he was sort of born into a police family and that’s about all he ever wanted to do.
As the only child of a 43-year law enforcement veteran, White said he can remember as early as 8-years-old taking rides with his father in a patrol car.
The Tupelo police chief is the son of former Oxford Police Chief Billy White Sr., who retired after more than 20 years as chief in that Lafayette County town.
The senior White, who moved to Tupelo in January 1995 to be closer to his grandchildren, said he is proud of his son and wishes him only the best with his new assignment.
“I support him 100 percent,” he said.