Tupelo council confirms FBI agent to become new police chief

Published 3:41 am Thursday, December 9, 2021

A longtime FBI agent is preparing to become the new police chief in a northern Mississippi city.

The Tupelo City Council voted Tuesday to confirm John Quaka, who was nominated by Mayor Todd Jordan.

“Twenty-six years of law enforcement, not one negative comment from anyone I’ve talked to that I’ve reached out to or people have reached out to me. I think his clean record speaks for itself,” Jordan told WTVA-TV.

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Interim Police Chief Jackie Clayton will retire at the end of this month, and Quaka is set to take over in January. Clayton told council members this week that he and Quaka have been discussing the transition and will spend more time together.

Quaka will oversee about 120 employees, manage an $11 million budget and serve as the department’s liaison between the officers and elected officials. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported he will inherit a department that has been plagued by discrimination lawsuits and factionalism.

Councilwoman Rosie Jones encouraged Quaka to apply the law equally to all people and to increase diversity in the department’s ranks.

“I’m all about diversity and treating everyone fairly,” Quaka said “I told the search committee that there’s a lot of things the (FBI) does not do right. But what they do right is diversity. Everyone is treated the same. That’s what I bring.”

Former Police Chief Bart Aguirre retired during the summer. The city has about 38,300 residents.

Quaka has been with the FBI since 1995. He has lived in Tupelo for 20 years and works in the Oxford office. His first posting with the bureau was in the Los Angeles Division. He later worked in the Greenville office and the Tupelo office until it closed.