Sumrall names its first-ever female chief

Sumrall Police Department’s new chief is a familiar face – and the first woman to ever hold that position.

During a ceremony Monday at Sumrall Town Hall, Mayor Heath Sumrall named Elsie Cowart as the new police chief. Cowart, who has served as assistant chief since October, replaces former chief Tony Kepper, who resigned Aug. 31.

“I aim to make (the residents of Sumrall) proud,” Cowart said. “The crime rate is not very high here, and I aim to keep it that way – that’s my ultimate goal.”

Before being hired as assistant chief in Sumrall, Cowart served as chief of the Lumberton Police Department from 2012 to September 2017.

“This is a historic event, because this is the first female police chief this town’s ever had – we are making history here,” Sumrall said. “I feel she’s very capable of doing the job, and she’s very community-oriented.

“She’s already familiar with most of the people in the town, and I haven’t heard anybody say a bad thing about her so far.”

Cowart said she also wants to continue to raise community involvement with events like Popsicles With Police, as well as hire more officers for additional coverage.

“We get a tremendous amount of help from our outside agencies – Lamar County, Covington County – they do assist us when we need it,” she said. “But it would be a plus to have (extra) in-house officers.”

Sumrall said he could not comment on Kepper’s resignation. Kepper, who was named interim chief in July 2017 after former chief Chris Dungan resigned, took over as chief in October.

Sumrall also swore in two new police officers – Nick Verner and Charles Reid – bringing the force to four part-time officers and four full-time officers, in addition to Cowart.