By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Police Department union 819, that was first recognized by city administration in 1980 and has been dormant for many years, was revitalized Thursday afternoon when members met inside a conference room at the Lauderdale County Adult Detention Facility in Meridian.
MPD Lt. Dean Harper, who was elected president of the renewed union, said the meeting of about 30 current members on the 103-person force, was in response to recent events that have occurred at the MPD in the last few months.
"I can't comment specifically on what those events or issues are or the concerns voiced by the members," Harper said after the meeting ended after about an hour. "What was discussed is confidential and will be addressed by union committees in later meetings."
MPD Chief James Reed was out of town on personal leave Thursday and won't be back to work until Tuesday of next week. But Mayor Cheri Barry said in response to the news that the police union was active again that she has always had an open door policy and if the union is becoming active again because of any issues, she wanted to let the officers know she would listen to any concerns they have.
"I'm always available to meet the needs of the employees of the city of Meridian," Barry said. "I can't think of any issue that can't be worked out. If there are concerns, I'm ready to listen."
Harper said one reason for the resurrection of the union is to give each and every officer who may have an issue in the future the power and support of the entire membership rather than for them to feel they are going it alone.
"And if we need to meet with anyone in administration we will do so as a union," Harper added.
Harper said the union, despite its inactivity throughout the years, automatically renews its contract with the city each year. He said every one of the officers is still committed to the mission statement of the MPD and will continue to serve at a high level.