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From left, Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite administers the oath of office to new Police Chief Macon Moore Wednesday morning. Moore moves from the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, where he was Chief Deputy.

The third-largest city in the state of Mississippi officially has a new “top cop” with Wednesday morning’s swearing in of Macon Moore to lead the department of more than 110 personnel.

The ceremony was held in Mayor Darren Musselwhite’s office in the Southaven Municipal Complex before friends, family, city and county law enforcement officers.

Moore, who was the chief deputy in the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, returns to the department he served in for close to 10 years ago before moving into the Sheriff’s Department job.

“We did a national search,” Musselwhite said before the actual ceremony. “We got tremendous candidates that were available, reaching as far as Chicago, Illinois and the Washington, D.C. area. We did our due diligence and had some high-quality law enforcement executives that were interested in the job.”

Musselwhite added there were also some internal applications from current staff that came in as part of the process. There were 22 applicants for the position when it opened.

Moore promised to mold the department to one that earns the citizens’ respect and trust.

“We will work as a team to enforce the laws fairly and equally,” Moore said. “We will work to build the community’s trust through impartial application of the law and transparency.”

While also getting to know the new officers who have joined the department since he left in 2009, Moore also wants to build back morale to a force that may have recently taken a hit.

Southaven officers have garnered more scrutiny in recent months from the 2017 death of Ismael Lopez, shot at his Southaven home in an incident where two officers mistook him for a suspect living near Lopez’ residence.

The officers, City and former Chief Steve Pirtle are now facing a wrongful death federal lawsuit from the Lopez family, despite the officers being criminally cleared in the death.

“Morale is a big issue and once I get in and get my finger on the pulse of what’s going on, we’re going to work with the troops,” Moore said. “I haven’t forgotten where I came from.”

Moore has spent his entire law enforcement career in Mississippi, beginning as a patrol officer in Greenville in 1989. He came to the Southaven department in 2001 and moved into the Sheriff’s Department in 2009.

“We’re proud of Chief Moore,” said Sheriff Bill Rasco. “He’s done a great job for us, and I know he’ll do a great job for Southaven. They made a great choice, but we hate to lose him.”

Rasco added he does not want to move quickly on filling his now-open position.

“We have a great command staff,” Rasco said. “We’ve got some great guys there who do a great job. It’s probably going to be after the (August) election before we make a decision on who will be the next Chief Deputy.”

Being in close proximity to Memphis and Shelby County, Moore said he looks forward to stopping any criminals who try to come down from Tennessee and elsewhere into the city.

“We will be working as a team with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, Memphis Police Department, all the municipalities and the Sheriff’s Department here,” Moore explained. “Criminals have no boundaries, and we’re not going to have any boundaries. We’re going to work aggressively together to enforce the laws.”

One of the first orders of business will be acquainting himself with his command staff.

Turning emotional for a moment, Moore noted the sacrifice his family has made with him being a law enforcement officer.

“It’s very difficult to be married to a first responder,” Moore said. “It’s tough for the chosen profession that we have. We miss a lot of holidays and we miss a lot of birthdays, but it’s what we choose to do. I’ve worked a long time, and to me this is the end of the road for me. This is where I will retire.”

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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