Tupelo police chief to step down



By Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

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.”

Click here to view Carleton resignation letter.

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.


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  • The-Facts

    Don’t forget he attended several
    schools on our dollar just to build his resume!!! He should pay the city
    back NOW!!!!

  • Sara M.

    I am sorry to hear this. Chief Carleton helped our neighborhood solve some serious problems, and we appreciate him. I hope his departure really is by his own choice but I just don’t think he would have left if he hadn’t been told to. I may be wrong but he surely seemed to love his job and Tupelo.

  • Charles Wood

    I think we’re losing a good man. Have known Chief Carleton since he was in high school. His father has been in law enforcement for years, and they both display the highest level of fairness and community spirit. A shame to lose a good man because of personal politics.

  • Hope1212

    Good Luck Tony!

  • Hope1212

    The fire chief needs to be fired. While the mayor is
    promoting Tupelo, the fire chief is promoting his family and friends from Iuka.
    He promoted his cousin from Iuka, his longtime family friend from Iuka, his
    nephew from Iuka, and hired another family friend from Iuka. I thought
    department heads are supposed to have degrees. Where is Thomas Walker’s degree?

  • Amanda

    What a shame that the community was NOT put first by losing a dedicated law enforcement officer. The reputation of TPD has become a positive one after so many years. Of course the mayor already has someone in mind for this position. He has since the day he was elected. Politics at its worst.

  • Tupelo_Guy

    I’ve known Carleton since I was in the middle school. He was our resources officer at the time. He’s a very nice guy and I wish him all the best!

  • Goldenwaveforlife@hotmail.com

    This is a sad day. Mayor Shelton must think the entire community is full of idiots to act like he did not force the Chief to resign. Tupelo has just forced out the best chief it has had in a long time. Tony is a good family man and anyone that knows him personally knows that this is a real low blow. I wish we could say the same thing about the Mayor, but we can’t. He has an agenda and it is obvious his agenda is to appoint as many friends as possible. This city is really going to suffer if someone doesn’t put an end to Mayor Shelton’s secret agenda. The “people’s” mayor is an absolute joke and I am tired of him treating his constituents as if they were morons.

    • DoubleTalk

      Is this not a common practice ? Nothing new. What goes around comes around. There have been many good public employees (local to federal) that have left the system after elections. I’m not hearing the current Chief was forced to leave the PD totally, he just did not want to go from Top Dog back among the ranks.

    • Winston Smith

      Every newly elected mayor tries to put political allies in positions of power. That’s not a secret agenda, that’s politics 101.

  • E=mc2

    Carleton should have never been Top Cop.How easy we chose to forget…who did he appoint to be his 2nd in command.Revisit his words when he made that appointment.Thank you Lord now he can go back to being the nice guy he is…