TUPELO — A former FBI agent is the new police chief for the city of Tupelo.
John Quaka was officially sworn into the post Monday by Tupelo Municipal Court Judge Jay Weir, news outlets reported. Mayor Todd Jordan and a search committee chose him out of 26 applicants.
“In the end, one person stood above the rest,” Jordan said. “Of all the people I reached out to, in his 26 years in law enforcement, I never heard one negative comment about him.”
Quaka said taking the helm of the 100-officer department in northeast Mississippi was the fulfillment of a dream.
“In my youth, I dreamed of being a special agent with the FBI; as an adult, I dreamed of being a chief of police,” Quaka told the crowd at his investiture ceremony at the Tupelo Police Department. “This is a great community. It is amazing. It is where we work, where we worship, where we raise our kids.”
He met with the department’s supervisors Monday to start the formal process of getting to know people and their duties within the department. He said his first task as chief will be that of assessing the department to see what’s working and what isn’t.
“I might tweak a few things,” Quaka said. “With my federal background, one thing I want to see is the department brought up to federal standards.”
Quaka shared it will be a challenge to adapt from the federal system to a local level, but he plans to build relationships with employees and the community to form better bonds with the city.
The new chief said he knows he’s going to make some mistakes along the way, but said he will always rectify those mistakes when possible and be the best police chief he can.
“I promise you I am going to be honest, professional, truthful and fair,” he said.
Even though Quaka is now Tupelo’s top cop, Quaka isn’t a certified officer under state law. He must first complete a 200-hour refresher course before becoming a certified police officer.
Quaka’s lack of certification won’t affect his ability to lead the department as an administrator. But he will not be able to personally arrest anyone until he is certified.
In addition, Quaka plans to continue teaching constitutional law classes at the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center. “I think it is important to stay involved and connected with the cadets,” Quaka said.