Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Wednesday, December 9, Mayor Toby Barker announced that Assistant Chief Peggy Sealy will assume the duties of chief of police, and Major Hardy Sims will assume the duties of assistant chief for the remainder of the term for the Hattiesburg Police Department.
This decision comes shortly after Chief Anthony Parker announced his retirement last week, and follows a precedent/protocol established for the department from both 2007 and 2015, when vacancies occurred in the chief’s position before the end of a term.
Citing Parker’s leadership for many of the department’s successes over the course of the last few years, Barker hopes to build on that momentum with this leadership team.
“We know there are many important issues and goals ahead for our department – continuing to grow our numbers to 110 and on to 120, full implementation of the Police Citizen Review Board to foster more transparency and trust between the community and the department; address officer concerns related to vehicles, uniforms and promotions; continue training initiatives on topics like de-escalation; and finally, to keep our officers focused on true community-based policing,” said Barker.
He added, “While we have seen great strides in reducing overall felony crime rates and several decreases in specific Type I crime categories, we know we still have work to do. I am confident that with the leadership of both Sealy and Sims, we will make significant progress on these goals over the next few months.”
Sealy was announced as assistant chief in December of 2017 and has served alongside Parker for three years. Her career in law enforcement began in the late 80s when she served as a meter maid for the department. She later chose to attend and graduated from the police academy in 1993. Over the course of her career, she has worked in patrol, detectives and internal affairs, and she has subsequently worked her way from sergeant to lieutenant to captain and to assistant chief.
“Assistant Chief Sealy embodied community policing before it became a buzzword in law enforcement circles,” said Barker. “She spent many of her early patrol days in Robertson Place, Briarfield and Palmers Crossing, and she is well-respected in both the department and the community. In a year where women have continued to shatter glass ceilings, the significance of Hattiesburg having a woman lead its police department is yet another step forward for our community.”
Sims began his career with the Hattiesburg Police Department in 1992. After two years on patrol, he served as an officer with the original Neighborhood Enhancement Team. He went on to work in the detective division and community relations and was the department’s first public information officer. He served as a captain over patrol and eventually became major of operations, a position he has held since 2004.
“Major Hardy Sims is a gifted, knowledgeable law enforcement officer who can execute a plan from start to finish,” said Barker. “He is known for having productive dialogue with residents to solve problems, and his leadership has been a key part of enhancing the quality of life for our residents.”
Both Sealy and Sims began their academy experiences together and together they’ll take the reins of the department as it navigates the next several months of transition.
“I would like to thank Mayor Barker for this opportunity to continue serving the citizens of Hattiesburg in this role,” said Sealy. “The qualities of a good leader include integrity, accountability and a vision to move forward building trust. Both myself and Major Sims have leaned on these qualities throughout our careers, and I look forward to working together as a team to build onto the momentum of Hattiesburg Police Department – in increase manpower numbers, providing the best training and equipment for our officers and continuing to embrace community policing.”
Sims added, “I want to thank Mayor Barker for entrusting me with the role of Assistant Chief for the Hattiesburg Police Department. I’m excited about the opportunity to help lead our department into the future. I look forward to working with Chief Sealy in helping make the city of Hattiesburg a safer place to live.”
These roles are effective January 1.