Tommy Cox

Laurel police Capt. Tommy Cox is Mayor Johnny Magee’s, background, choice to be the next police chief. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

Veteran captain Cox chosen, awaits City Council approval

Everyone associated with the Laurel Police Department had to go through an abrupt, unexpected change with the untimely death of Chief Tyrone Stewart in January.

Mayor Johnny Magee doesn’t want them to have to go through another tough transition just a few weeks later. That’s why he’s nominating a longtime leader from within the department as the next chief.

Capt. Tommy Cox is the mayor’s choice for the next chief of the LPD. He will be presented to the City Council for confirmation at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

“I think it is a very important part of the morale of the department to promote from within the department whenever possible,” Magee said. “I believe that Capt. Cox has shown his leadership abilities throughout his career and is well capable of leading this department into the 21st century. 

“He has the respect of the men and women whom he will oversee, and this goes a long way in being successful as a leader.”

Cox has been with the LPD for 21 years and has served in virtually every capacity in the department. He graduated from Southern Miss with a degree in criminal justice, worked as a campus police officer for a year, then after a short stint with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, he joined the LPD in February 1998.

Cox worked as a patrolman for two years, then as an investigator for two years before becoming the sergeant over the Criminal Investigations Division and Narcotics.

In July 2005, he was promoted to lieutenant and was shift commander of a patrol unit for a year, then served as lieutenant over the Narcotics Division for a short time before being promoted to captain over the Patrol Division in September 2006.

Since January 2011, he has been captain over CID, Narcotics and the Juvenile Division. He also serves as the department’s liaison to the District Attorney’s Office and public information officer. 

Cox has initiated efforts to recruit new officers, with a focus on minority candidates, and he performs internal investigations, some of which have resulted in the clearance of wrongdoing and some of which have resulted in the termination of officers.

Cox has also been involved in civic outreach, coordinating the LPD’s participation in the Salvation Army’s bell-ringer program and Angel Tree program.

After Stewart’s death, Magee tapped three longtime officers to lead the department — Deputy Chief Billy Chandler, and Capts. Cox and Shane Valentine.

Plenty of candidates expressed interest in the position, Magee said, and four applied for it. If confirmed by the council, Cox’s annual salary would be $70,958, up from the $54,359 he makes now.

“I am sure that Capt. Cox will not treat everyone the same — this is an impossibility — but I do think that he will be fair and impartial in his dealings with the departmental employees, as well as the civilian and business communities,” Magee said. “I look forward to his leading the LPD for many years to come.”

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