Mark Ballard, Chief of Police
Chief Ballard’s public safety service to the City of Starkville has spanned for more than two decades. He was sworn in as Chief of Police on December 31, 2019 and now oversees the department.
Ballard began his career with the Starkville Police Department in 1996 where he served as a patrol officer. Ballard was assigned to the Investigations Bureau in 2001 where he served as a detective. At the end of 2004, Ballard was promoted to Police Sergeant. Ballard would become a Police Patrol Supervisor as well as the Police Administration Bureau Commander.
During his time as a lieutenant, Ballard joined the 16th Circuit Drug Court Program as a law enforcement representative. The sixteenth circuit court district offers an intensive, highly structured drug court program to help treat drug and alcohol addiction. Ballard assisted with cases involving drug using offenders, drug testing, and assisting with treatment services. Ballard credited his experiences with drug court as understanding the need to treat addiction successfully requires forging multiple partnerships beyond law enforcement.
In 1998, Ballard became a member of the department’s special weapons and tactics team (SWAT). In 2002, Ballard became the team leader. This position was responsible for managing multiple tactical operations as well as critical incidents. Ballard’s team led multiple call-outs with the successful apprehension of violent criminals and the service of high-risk warrants without occurring significant injury or loss of life. During his tenure, the SWAT team joined MSU CAVS Law Enforcement Research Initiative. This program bridged a close relationship between Starkville Police Department and MSU CAVS Research. This research initiative focused on human ergonomics, decision making, effective multitasking, and team dynamics related to law enforcement operations. Much of this research incorporated the use of robots and drones into law enforcement scenarios. Capt. Ballard continues to serve as an advisor with law enforcement research programs.
In March of 2014, Ballard was promoted to Police Captain and continued his service to the Starkville PD as the Police Operations Division Commander until the fall of 2017 when he became the Police Administrative Division Commander. In 2019, Captain Ballard assisted Chief Nichols in achieving Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) Award. This is a national accreditation standard that ensures the department’s practices, policies, and efforts are in keeping with national best standards. Capt. Ballard was appointed as Chief of Police in November of 2019. Along with his committed work to Starkville PD, Chief Ballard is a former member of the186th MSANG Refueling Wing where he served as personnel specialist.
Chief Ballard holds a Masters of Arts in Executive Leadership from Liberty University as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University. He is a graduate of numerous law enforcement and security training programs including the MS Law Enforcement Basic Certification, MS Information Liaison Officer Program, MS Certified Investigator Program, MS Law Enforcement Command College, F.B.I.’s MS Chiefs of Police Command College Program, the U.S. Air Force Personnel Specialist Certification, and the F.B.I.’s National Academy Executive Leadership Training. Chief Ballard is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI National Academy Association Mississippi Chapter, The International Associations of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts and he is a proud member of Starkville Rotary Club