HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg's new "Top Cop" was sworn in Monday during a brief ceremony at the Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center.
Anthony "Stoney" Parker was sworn in by Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree in front of an overflow crowd of family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers, as well as University of Southern Mississippi officials.
Parker was the former Crystal Springs police chief, and has now returned to the Hub City, a place where he called home in 1970s, where he was a member of the Southern Miss football team.
Parker was nominated by DuPree on June 15, which was the fourth nomination to be presented to the city council to replace Frazier Bolton. Parker was approved during a special-called meeting on June 29, and has spent the time since between Hattiesburg and Crystal Springs learning the aspects of the department.
"He is a great person, you can't help but love a big guy that gets emotional over things like this and has the ability to lead like him," DuPree said.
As far as the adjustments to the department, Parker plans to hit the ground running, saying "there is work to be done."
"The foundation is there, it just needs a little bit of tweaking, so I'm not looking to do any major changes, but I still have to get in, assess and evaluate what is there, so once I get in and get my feet wet we will decide what other maneuvers we are going to make or what other avenues we are going to go," Parker said.
He is no stranger to law enforcement, with over 30 years of law enforcement experience, including more than two decades with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, where he retired from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. Parker joined the Crystal Springs Police Department, quickly moving up the ranks from patrolman to sergeant to lieutenant before taking on the role as chief in October 2013.
The Hattiesburg Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 55 issued a "welcome" letter to Chief Parker. Lodge President E. Allen Murray wrote, "I hope that along the way you will have an opportunity to meet with the rank and file beyond the command staff. You will find that we have a few good men and women with a wealth of talent waiting to be tapped into."
Murray added as the leader of the HFOP, that Parker has the full support of the lodge.
"With the swearing ceremony now over, we have come upon a time for recovery," Murray wrote. "The recovery period will not be completed overnight. Parts of the recovery can take well over a year, but we have taken the first of many steps to come."
"I know that the service to be provided will be executed effectively, efficiently, and with an integrity that is above reproach," Murray wrote.
Parker said he hopes to take the department in a positive direction and lead the group to greatness once again.
"This is a fine department, one of the finest in the nation, and we are going to be back on top, my command staff is here to do the work, I am here just to call the plays and point them in the right direction and add some leadership, people will see great things," Parker said.