Neal retiring as Ridgeland police chief

Neal retiring as Ridgeland police chief


RIDGELAND — After a law enforcement career spanning more than three decades here, Police Chief John Neal has announced he will retire at the end of June.

Neal was appointed as Ridgeland’s Chief of Police in 2015, and took over the department on July 1 of that year.  He was hired as a patrol officer in 1989.

Neal expressed his gratitude to the mayor, aldermen, and the community.

“The Mayor and Board of Aldermen are very supportive of our law enforcement efforts to keep Ridgeland safe,” Neal said. “The relationship I have formed with the city leaders and administrators has certainly made my efforts much easier to navigate.”

Mayor Gene F. McGee thanked Neal for his years of service and said he has contributed to making the department as good as it is.

“I am proud of the leadership Chief Neal has provided at RPD,” McGee said. “His hard work and dedication has made the department one of the best anywhere. Because of his high standards he has made Ridgeland a better and safer place to live and work. He will be missed. I wish him well as he starts new phase of his life.” 

Neal said he was thankful that Mayor McGee, the city board and administration put their trust in him and his vision during his career. He went on to say that citizens and the business community as well as officers and staff of the police department have made his work in Ridgeland possible.

“To the citizens and business community in Ridgeland, thank you for trusting me to provide for your safety,” Neal said. 

“Finally, to the men and women who are or have been employed by the Ridgeland Police Department, thank you for always putting your best foot forward.  It is because of you I depart with a strong sense of pride.”  

The outgoing chief has worked his entire career in law enforcement with the Ridgeland Police Department. 

“After attending the University of Southern Mississippi, I felt it was very important to come back to Madison County and seek a law enforcement career in the community I grew up,” Neal said. “I am extremely blessed to have worked my entire career with a community that always rises to the top to support their first responders.”

In his experience, Neal says he “cannot say enough” about he support the department receives form the community. He said he is frequently approached by residents “Who want to praise the outstanding work of our officers.” He said this due to the outstanding resumes of new hires and the development and training they receive once they join the department.

“These gestures of appreciation are due to the quality of officers we hire, as well as the expectations our internal leaders place upon them,” Neal said. “The task of leading this department has been a blessing in so many ways, but watching young officers develop is extremely fulfilling.” 

Chief Neal was hired as a patrol officer by former Chief Harold Acy on January 27, 1989. He further served in numerous roles, including Patrol Officer, DUI Enforcement Officer, Accident Reconstructionist, Patrol Sergeant, Criminal Investigator, and as Commander over both Criminal Investigations Division and Patrol Operations Division.  

During his tenure, Neal served under former Ridgeland Chief’s Acy, Charles Newell, Jimmy Houston and Randy Tyler. He credits the majority of his success to the foundation his predecessors laid.

“Law enforcement officers are a ‘different breed,’ and due to the nature of the work, we often see things through a different set of glasses,” Neal said. “The Mayor and Board of Aldermen understand this and have trusted me to always serve our citizens, visitors, and business community with the best interest of the city in mind.”

Neal said he has no immediate plans for retirement other than catching up on personal projects and spending time with his wife, Nelda, and family. Neal thanked his family for their “patience and understanding” as he “pursued his passion to serve.”

Neal said remains “young in the mind” and expects to continue to pursue his professional career, but added there are currently “very capable leaders within the department who deserve the chance to lead.”

“I have been fortunate to lead several projects over the years to hopefully better our department,” Neal said. “And that opportunity should be afforded to those officers who have dedicated their careers to Ridgeland, just as I did.”

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