HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker will retire at the end of the year, the city announced Monday evening.
Parker has served as the head of the Hattiesburg Police Department for five years and has served in law enforcement for 39 years.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Hattiesburg’s chief of police,” Parker said in a news release from the city. “I am grateful to the citizens of this community and for the ability to serve under two great men — Mayor Johnny DuPree and Mayor Toby Barker. I have a lot of respect for both of them, and I am grateful for having an opportunity to serve a city I love.”
Dupree appointed Parker as police chief in June 2015, just over a month after two HPD officers, Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate, were killed in the line of duty.
“When I came to Hattiesburg, it was at a kind of pivotal point,” Parker told WDAM on Thursday. “We had just lost Deen and Tate earlier that spring, the men in the department were at a kind of low and they needed some leadership and guidance, consistency, accountability and different things like that. And I think that I brought that here to the department.”
Barker reappointed Parker in 2017 after taking over as Hattiesburg’s mayor.
“In the early months of our administration, I quickly saw Chief’s steady demeanor, strength of character and ability to empower those around him. I am grateful for his commitment to our community and for tackling a lot of big visions for the department,” Barker said. “With his leadership, we have created a strong foundation that will continue to serve the growth and continued trajectory of the Hattiesburg Police Department.”
Parker will continue to serve through the end of December after which he plans to spend much of his time at his family farm in Montgomery, Alabama.
During Parker’s tenure, the department began Coffee with a Cop to establish closer ties with the community as well as increased bike and foot patrols. The department also adopted a pay scale under his leadership and made agreements with the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University that offers police employees discounted tuition to further their education.
“I’m proud of the work I’ve done here and with all of the agencies I’ve worked with,” Parker said. “Specifically, I feel like I’ve been able to bring consistency, accountability and trust to the table, and that means a lot to me. It has been a very rewarding career. I’m more than grateful, but now it’s time for my family.”
Prior to serving as Hattiesburg’s chief, Parker served 28 years with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. He also spent time as a special investigator with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and as chief of the Crystal Springs Police Department.
Parker was a member of the Southern Miss football team in the 1970s and returned to the Hub City in 2015 to take over as the city’s top police officer.
“I never imagined that moment would lead to me serving as chief in the same city that gave back to me during my time as a Golden Eagle, but it did. God’s hand has played a vital role in every step I’ve made,” Parker said.
The city said Barker will work through the transition with HPD’s command staff and, together with the Hattiesburg City Council, determine the department’s next steps.