Waller to review all policies, procedures and practices for Metro Narcotics

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson announced today that the new director of the Metro Narcotics Unit, Rodney G. Waller, has completed his first two months in the field evaluating operations and has been directed to begin a rigorous review of all unit policies, procedures and practices. A report with recommended improvements is due July 1.

According to the mayor, Waller brings extensive experience to his new role. He served 25 years with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which included completion of the DEA Agent’s Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia, and selection as the academy’s outstanding student. Waller worked in close coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the prosecution of major cases, including international assignments to interdict importation of large quantities of drugs, as well as management of systems for the custody of drug evidence to ensure its integrity. Waller served eight years with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics before joining DEA, including management and agent training responsibilities. He is a 1980 graduate of the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree in Criminal Justice.

The Metro Narcotics unit is accountable to and funded primarily by city, county and university administrators. Its practices have been in the spotlight with both national and regional news coverage.

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“We have given Waller the opportunity to evaluate every aspect of the unit, reach out to the community for counsel, and make recommendations to ensure it is one of the best managed programs anywhere,” Patterson said. “We want nothing less than the best, and he has been given free rein to recommend everything from changes to policies and procedures to accreditation, the proper use of confidential informants and even a name change.”

Jeff Busby, president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, said, “We’ve asked Waller to look at everything, ensuring the best law enforcement and community relations practices are in place, and increasing our effectiveness in battling illegal drug use, whether through education, prevention or interdiction.”

Oxford Police Chief Joey East said Waller has been asked to evaluate processes for using confidential informants (CI’s), focusing on thorough communication to those arrested about the pros and cons of serving as a CI and best practices for CI safety. Waller also was directed to continue a thorough financial and property audit begun under interim unit director Alex Fauver.

University of Mississippi Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc said she is pleased with the partnership between city, county and university officials as the search was conducted for the new unit director and appreciates the energy behind the audit and the shared commitment to make the unit a leader in best practices for drug law enforcement and accountability.

“All of us share a vision of a safe, drug-free environment for all of Lafayette County, including the Ole Miss campus, and we believe important steps have been taken in that direction,” said the vice chancellor. “We look forward to hearing the results of Waller’s review.”