TUPELO – Tony Carleton will become Tupelo’s next police chief Jan. 1 after winning unanimous approval Tuesday by the City Council.
The Lee County Sheriff’s captain was chosen by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. from among numerous applicants for the job currently held by Harold Chaffin.
Chaffin will retire Dec. 31, and both Reed and Carleton thanked the outgoing chief for his 35 years on the force and seven as its commander.
The search for Chaffin’s replacement “has been a long but intense process,” Reed said at City Hall. “But it’s certainly one of the most important positions in the city.”
Reed’s decision won praise from both municipal and county officials.
“Tony is a very spiritual and honest man,” said Tupelo Police Maj. Jackie Clayton, who supervised Carleton in the 1990s. “He’s well-trained and very mindful others. I worked with his dad for many years and he is also a good man, so Tony has a great family background. This move is not going to be anything but an asset to this department.”
Carleton started his policing career in the mid-1990s, working for the Mississippi State University Police Department, Tupelo Police Department and Harrison County Sheriff’s Department before joining the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
Said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson: “He has made a great administration for me. We have a great working relationship and friendship and I am looking forward to seeing him serve as chief of police.”
Reed said Carleton’s commitment to continuous training, belief in community policing and high marks from community members made him the right choice.
He also noted that Carleton, 40, is fit and friendly and will represent Tupelo well.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis said she hopes Carleton moves the police department in a more positive direction.
“A lot of negative things have been said about the police department the last few years, and I’m looking forward to him moving us beyond that,” Davis said. “I think he can take it to the next level. And he assured me he will treat everyone the same.”
Carleton, who attended the council meeting with his wife Adelli and other family members, said he was honored and humbled.
“There are challenging days to come,” he added, “and I look forward to them.”
Emily Le Coz and Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal