McComb hires new police chief

McComb native Garland Ward will become the city’s next police chief following a unanimous vote by the city board on Tuesday night.

The board held little to no debate in voting for Ward, an investigator with the state Attorney General’s office.

Ward said he might need two weeks to start the new position but he’d try to fill the role by June 1.

City Administrator Dirkland Smith prefaced the vote by explaining the process that led to his recommendation. He said he formed a committee comprised of himself, Human Resources Director Donjurea Davis and multiple “subject matter experts,” which he said were police chiefs from other departments.

“We conducted a nationwide search for chief of police,” Smith said. “We had over 70 candidates that spanned from Pennsylvania, Florida to Nevada to Montana, so we had a very vast pool of candidates.” 

Smith said the experts on the panel helped represent all ethnicities in McComb and represented both males and females.

This committee narrowed down the pool to six candidates and conducted the interviews. He said the interview process was tough, adding that it took two days to complete the six interviews.

The board voted unanimously to hire Ward after a roll call vote, and Mayor Quordiniah Lockley gave his opinion of the new chief.

“I am very familiar with your family,” Lockley said to Ward. “I want to personally welcome you aboard ... and I hope that each one of our board members would do the same.”

Ward, who grew up in Community Park Apartments and went to McComb High School, said that McComb was and is his home and said he is excited for the opportunity to work for his hometown.

“I’m glad to be here. This is home for me,” he said. “I always wanted my law enforcement career to end where my life started, so hopefully it’s God’s will I’ll be here until I retire.”

Selectman Michael Cameron asked Ward to give some of his background to the board.

Ward said his career started in 2000 when he got hired as a patrolman for the Jackson Police Department. In 2004, he was promoted to the homicide investigation division of the department. From there, he moved to Vicksburg.

Then he worked with the U.S. Department of Defense as an advisor in Afghanistan before joining the AG’s office.

Ward had applied for the chief’s job in August 2018, when the board hired Damian Gatlin.

Ward also was the recommended candidate for the police chief’s job in Summit to replace the late James Isaac, but the town council chose former chief and Pike County sheriff Kenny Cotton instead.

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