By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton announced late Monday through an email that he will resign from his position Oct. 31, leaving the job after less than four years.
Carleton’s announcement comes just days after Mayor Jason Shelton announced that he had informed all city department heads whether he will want them to continue in their positions during his administration.
However, Shelton said he did not ask Carleton to resign and commended him for his service to the city.
“Today was not our first conversation about it,” Shelton said Monday. “It was absolutely his decision.”
Carleton was hired as police chief in December 2009 by former Mayor Jack Reed Jr. He previously worked for the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
Carleton did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Journal.
In his two-page letter announcing his resignation, he listed police accomplishments and milestones during his time as chief.
“I have enjoyed my tenure with Tupelo,” Carleton. “This will always be home for me. Please keep my family in your prayers as we begin this new phase in our lives.”
Shelton said he already has someone in mind for the police chief’s position that he will nominate at the Oct. 1 City Council meeting, when he also will nominate others for department head positions in his administration.
The Daily Journal reported on Saturday that Shelton had decided to nominate Don Lewis, current director of Tupelo Parks & Recreation, to replace current Chief Operations Officer Darrell Smith, who has worked in the position in four city administrations since 2004.
Lewis has worked for the city since 1997, first hired as sports director.
Shelton said he plans to give each member of the City Council a packet today revealing each person he plans to nominate for department head positions. No other resignations are expected before Shelton nominates department heads to the council.
While the mayor nominates people to department head positions, a majority of the City Council must approve them.
Shelton took office in July under the platform of attracting and retaining younger, middle-income families to the city. He also said he wants to loosen city regulations and make City Hall friendlier to the public.
Last week, the council has confirmed Chuck Williams as interim director of Tupelo Public Works, filling a position after director Sid Russell announced his retirement.