Capt. Tommy Cox said he had hopes of becoming chief of the Laurel Police Department one day. That day will come Tuesday, if he is confirmed by the Laurel City Council. But it didn’t happen the way he planned.
“This is not how I wanted to get it,” Cox said at a press conference Wednesday after Mayor Johnny Magee introduced him as his choice for chief. “I would rather Chief Stewart got to retire on his own terms. But we have to play the hand we’re dealt.”
Longtime Chief Tyrone Stewart’s untimely death in late January created the opening for the job. Cox was one of three longtime LPD officers who served together in the role of chief since Stewart’s death.
“A lot happens in that building on Magnolia,” Magee said of the Law Enforcement Complex, “and it affects what’s going on out in the community. I saw (Cox’s) leadership after Chief Stewart’s death. He stepped up, and the men and the women in that building respect him. That goes a long way in achieving what he has achieved.”
Cox has been with the department for 21 years, and has served in almost every division, from patrol to narcotics and criminal investigations. He has been captain over investigations, narcotics and juveniles since 2011.
Cox said he plans to continue the work that Stewart did with community outreach, including the annual Stuff-A-Truck event at Thanksgiving and work with The Salvation Army at Christmas, among other projects.
“We love for people in the community to have positive experiences with the police department,” Cox said. “I will be out there … probably in a little bit different way than Chief Stewart, but I will be out there.”
With his promotion, there will be “a few minor changes” in the department, Cox said.
“We have an excellent group of men and women,” he said.
Cox took the opportunity in front of local media to make a chief-like request. He is recruiting people to take the test on April 6 to join the department.
“We are advertising for new recruits,” he said. “We’re trying to get a big crew of diverse candidates to choose from.”