| By Jason C. Mattox
When the new mayor and board of aldermen held their first meeting in July, it not only signaled new leadership in Batesville’s city government, but in its police department as well.
That meeting featured a unanimous decision to promote department veteran Tony Jones from the rank of major to colonel. The promotion means Jones is now the number two cop in a department of more than 30 officers.
With the new title comes additional responsibility for Jones.
"Now I am having to handle more of the administrative duties like monitoring leave time and handling time cards," he said. "That is something I haven’t had to do in the past."
In addition to those new duties, Jones remains the supervisor for the BPD’s detective division – a post he has held since 1984.
"I have been with this department for 28 years," he said. "There have been a lot of changes to the department and to law enforcement in general since I first came aboard."
One of the biggest changes Jones was happy to see was an improvement to minimum standards in law enforcement. Since 1981, it has been required that all officers be certified by a training institution. Jones completed his certification training at the Police Academy in Pearl in 1978.
Jones was also the first officer for the Batesville Police Department to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. He completed his training there in 1984.
"For an old country boy like me to be able to receive the training I have, especially from the FBI Academy, was a real honor," he said. "I was a sergeant when I went in, and that was almost unheard of at the time since the academy was for more administrative personnel."
Jones said he feels like the knowledge he has gained through training and his on-the-job experience will be a huge asset to him in his new post.
"After being here all these years, and completing all the training I have, I like to think the people in the department will feel comfortable coming to me for advice," he said.
"I am here to work with them and to help make the officers of the Batesville Police Department the best they can be," Jones added.
Col. Jones said he and Chief Gerald Legge are constantly working to improve the department and make it a more pleasant place to work.
"We want our officers to want to come to work every day," he said. "But, at the same time, we still want to have the most professional department we can."
Jones said the success of the department will also depend on the new leadership of the city.
"All of us here at the department hope the new administration will show continued support of the police department," he said. "I think they are already working to make things better for the department as a whole.
"The City of Batesville has a good police department, and, if we continue to work together, it will get better," Jones added.