You can take the Interim off his title now because Claude Jones is Lubbock's new police chief. Jones has worked his way up the ranks in the police force for 28 years. He was born and raised in Lubbock, and he is a graduate of Coronado High School. Jones will now lead a department of 400 employees.
Claude Jones beat out four other highly qualified candidates for the position in what was described as a very competitive interview process. As for why Jones was the right man, City Manager Bob Cass said he sat down with all the candidates, all of whom were very qualified but Cass says Jones stood out for the excellent leadership he's shown in the last year. "Claude didn't come in and just keep the doors open Claude came in and led and that's what you want a manager and a leader to do especially a Chief of Police so he did well," City Manager Bob Cass said.
What really impressed city leaders about Claude Jones was his leadership ability. He led the police department through one of the most difficult times in its history, the tragedy of July 13th, 2001, when the force lost one of its own officers to friendly fire and then Police Chief Ken Walker was forced to resign. Cass wasn't alone, City Councilmemeber Tom Martin says Jones has a dedication to the department, and an ability to pick up the pieces after a tragic year and move forward. "I'm expecting that the police department will continue to provide a high level of police service in community", Councilmember Tom Martin said.
Jones was the point-man to bring the department together. "The job was overwhelming, but we have to keep our mind on the issues and not get side tracked," said Jones.
It was during the past year as Interim Police Chief that many officers, including Sergeant Greg Stevens, came to appreciate Jones' leadership abilities. "He brought a level of comfort, stability, and got things into normalcy," said Sgt. Stevens.
Now, Claude Jones is looking to the future. It will start by talking with community leaders across Lubbock to know their concerns and find solutions. "We can talk with them and get the issues resolved before we have problems in the neighborhood come up," said Jones.
One priority is to reach out to north and east Lubbock and the mental health community. Danette Castle is the CEO of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center in Lubbock. "There's a desire to have a community policing approach in which police officers know the neighborhood and pick up on the changes," said Castle.
Castle says that she sees the commitment Claude Jones has and looks forward to some positive changes. So, along with the support of city leaders, Jones also has the backing of many officers. "I think there's overwhelming support of the rank and file in the department, because we've worked with him. He's supervised us, and people are comfortable with someone they know," said Sgt. Stevens.
Claude Jones says he also wants to develop a traffic enforcement unit over the next few years. The goal is to put more police officers on the streets to monitor traffic and help keep city streets safer.
The decision to name Claude Jones as the new police chief will have to be approved by the Lubbock City Council.