By JB Clark
TUPELO – At a reception honoring former Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton, Maj. Jackie Clayton said he remembers officers telling stories of Carleton hanging around the police department as a child.
“I believe Chief Carleton always knew he wanted to be a police officer,” Clayton said. “The old-timers, older than me, say he used to hang around the station as a boy.”
Clayton supervised Carleton during his first stint in the Tupelo Police Department as a patrol officer and then worked with him again when Carleton returned as chief in 2010.
“I hope I had a small part in his successful career,” he said.
Clayton gave Carleton a leather jacket issued in 1975 to motorcycle officers. He said Carleton has had his eye on the jacket since working under Clayton as a patrol officer.
Maj. Anthony Hill thanked Carleton for not only being a leader, but a Christian leader. “You helped bring me out of some dark areas I didn’t think I would get out of, and I appreciate you,” Hill said.
Clayton said Carleton’s focus on training, tactical knowledge and improving TPD’s policies has set the department up for success in the future.
Chief Bart Aguirre, Carleton’s successor, said Carleton’s physical impact will be felt for years.
“He was instrumental in getting (the Police Athletic League Building) and also allowing me to be a part of the FBI task force that brought us the property and some of the asset forfeitures for our new police building,” Aguirre said.
Carleton’s resignation as police chief was effective Monday, and he will begin his position as assistant police chief in the Columbus Police Department this month.
Carleton began at the Tupelo Police Department in 1995 and then left for Harrison County in 2000. He then returned to the area as the Lee County Jail administrator before being hired as Tupelo’s police chief in 2010.
“I appreciate the love and support that is shared here, and it’s really an honor to be able to serve alongside the men and women here,” Carleton said. “For those guys that hit the road every day not knowing what’s going to happen to them, it’s hard to try to lead those guys. You just have to learn to support them.”