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It's official: Carleton is police chief


Newly-appointed Chief of Police Tony Carleton smiles after the city council named him to the position on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.

Newly-appointed Chief of Police Tony Carleton smiles after the city council named him to the position on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/ Dispatch Staff


Sarah Fowler



The Columbus Police Department has a new chief. 


The Columbus City Council named Tony Carleton the new chief Tuesday with a 5-0 vote. Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens was not at the meeting.  


A Tupelo native, Carleton is an 18-year law enforcement veteran. He has served as interim chief since Selvain McQueen retired as chief in April. Carleton was hired as assistant chief in November. Before coming to Columbus, he served as chief of police in Tupelo. He resigned from that position to come to Columbus. 


Carleton said his top priorities are adding officers to his department and becoming a stronger force in the community, as well as establishing a better community image.  


"I'm excited to get the position," he said Wednesday morning. "Lots of first reactions hit you when you get a job like this. What we immediatley need is a sense of community with the officers here. Certainly one of the first things is to get out to different functions, for people to know my door is always open and they let me know concerns they have and ways we can get out and help." 


Carleton said he hopes to add officers to the force in the coming months and introduce a new style of policing that works closely with the community.  


"For the officers here, it's a different thought process on how to police," he said. "We want to work with the community. It's not always that we're here to write tickets and arrest people. We want to be a part of community projects and art of the community." 


Carleton's salary was $67,500 as interim. He will earn $73,500 a year as chief, according to Human Resources Director Pat Mitchell. McQueen earned $70,000 in the position. 


A graduate of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy, Carleton has a bachelor's degree in public administration with an emphasis in criminal justice from the University of Mississippi. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in November. 


The city's Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said he is proud to have Carleton as the new chief. 


"We're very excited," Armstrong said. "Tony comes with the best of credentials. We're very pleased to have someone with his experience, education and caliber. We had a couple of very good applicants and Tony was one of them. We decided to go with Tony and we're just real excited about all of the innovative ideas he has for the police department to move the police department forward and the direction he thinks will make a major difference for the city." 


Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem echoed Armstrong and said Carleton was a "homerun" fit for Columbus. 


"I think he's going to bring credibility and respectability back to the Columbus police department," Karriem said.


Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.



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