September 26, 2013 9:34:17 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
The Columbus Police Department has a new Assistant Chief of Police. Tony Carleton was hired by a unanimous vote Wednesday afternoon during a specially called meeting of the city council.
Carleton will begin at the department on Nov. 1, earning a salary of $65,000 pending approval by the civil service commission. He will serve as head of the criminal investigation division and narcotics.
A Tupelo native, Carleton has most recently been chief at the Tupelo Police Department, where he held the position for four years. He resigned that position Monday.
A graduate of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy, Carleton has a bachelor's degree in public administration with an emphasis in criminal justice form the University of Mississippi. Last November, he graduated from the FBI National Academy.
Carleton, 44, has been in law enforcement for 18 years. He and his wife, Adelli, have three children; Alex, 20, Jacob, 16 and Carley Gray, 7.
Carleton said he is eager to get out in the community and establish trust between citizens of Columbus and the CPD.
"I feel like I have a knack for getting to know people and talk to them," he said. "A goal is certainly to get out in the community, let them know me and build a trust within the community," he said. "I want the people to run to us, not away from us and if I can't achieve that then we're fighting a losing battle. For any kind of crime (rate) to go down, we have to have the citizen's be part of that and be able assist us in that. For me, I've got to be able to get out there and meet those people and let them know I'm here for them, that I'm here to serve them."
The new assistant chief said he hopes to work with people in the community in order to create a safer environment.
"If they want to tell me something confidentially, I'm good at that," he said. "We'll find a way to work around what we need to get done so we can take care of and start to protect the citizens here. Not that they're not being protected, but make them start to feel more comfortable with being in Columbus. We certainly want everyone that lives here to know that they have a law enforcement agency that its goal is to serve the public and make them feel safe."
"For what I'm over, certainly what we're going to do is try to solve crime and try to reduce crime. Those are the goals."
Carleton will be the second assistant chief for the department, joining assistant chief Joe Johnson. The position for a second assistant chief was created in 2012 at the suggestion of Chief Selvain McQueen.
Mayor Robert Smith said he was "ecstatic" about Carleton's hiring, calling the move "Tupelo's loss and Columbus' gain."
Citing Carleton's lengthy resume on multiple training exercises, Ward 5 councilman Kabir Karriem said he was eager to work with the new assistant chief on reducing the crime. "I'm very, very excited as far as the direction the police department is going," Karriem said.
"I think it's a home run for the city of Columbus to bring in such an experienced police officer. The depth of knowledge that Chief Carleton has will enhance of police department ten times forward."
In addition to hiring Carleton during Wednesday's meeting, the city council also voted to approve the lateral hiring of a captain from another department. If he accepts the position, the captain, whose name is not yet being released, will also work in the investigations division.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.