Tupelo Police Chief gets month one under his belt

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tony Carleton walked into an empty office four weeks ago, but now there is a desk filled with work for the new police chief.
Carleton said it has been a positive first month on the job, and officers are on board with him as he reorganizes the police department and builds bridges with the community.
“We have really made an effort to mend bridges with the community,” he said. “We still have a lot we want to do, but we want the people in the community to know they can call on us when they need help. We are here for them.”
Administrative changes were beginning prior to Carleton’s coming aboard. Ronny Thomas, one of the department’s three majors and commander of the detectives, retired and the position wasn’t filled.
Carleton decided to have only two majors on staff and redistributed duties. Maj. Jackie Clayton now is commander over detectives and still supervises the patrol unit. Maj. Anthony Hill, who was head of special operations, now also is commander of the Tupelo Police Academy.
“Jackie and Anthony are very capable and knowledgeable officers and I felt the two of them were more than qualified to take on these new duties,” said Carleton. “For now we’re going to keep things like they are.”
Carleton also has the deputy chief position open. While he is not ruling out the possibility of one day hiring a deputy chief, it’s not at the top of his priorities.
“There is a lot of in-house training and other things we want to do in the immediate future, so we plan to get those things done before we decide on refilling that position. We are also keeping a very close eye on the budget, so that could also be a factor,” he said.
Consistent with Careton’s emphasis on training, new training has been added to the academy in preparation for its March class. He’s been working on getting the policy and procedures manual on training updated so he can make sure it is accredited through the state.
“We want Tupelo to be the safest city anywhere,” he said. “So we are making sure our officers are well-trained on all fronts so they can better serve the people who need them. And that’s not going to change as long as I’m police chief.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.