LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - The City of Laurel officially has a new police chief. The city council voted 4-3 Tuesday morning to hire LPD Capt. Tommy Cox to lead the department. Cox was sworn in immediately after the council meeting.
“Chief Cox has been here, he’s come up through the ranks," Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said. “He started off as a patrolman. He earned his way. He’s been in every facet of the police department."
After more than 20 years of serving the Laurel Police Department, Cox is now Laurel’s top cop.
“I’m honored and humbled by what the mayor thinks and the council’s approval and to take on this task," Cox said. “We’re going to keep going in the direction we have been going and do the best we can."
The department has been without a chief since Tyrone Stewart unexpectedly passed away in late January. Stewart had served as police chief of Laurel since 2011. Cox was one of three members of LPD chosen to lead the department after Stewart’s death.
As honored and proud as Cox is to step into his new role of leadership, he said it’s still bittersweet.
“I have mixed feelings right now, obviously going to the loss of Chief Stewart," Cox said. “This is not the way I wanted the position to become available, but as I’ve said before, you kind of play the hand you’re dealt.”
The new chief said regardless of the change in leadership, he’s striving to keep the same positive community relations that the department developed under the late chief.
“He was out there in the community, and although I have a little bit of a different style than Chief Stewart, he was out there and it really worked for the department and we’re going to continue that and then continue some of the initiatives he started,” said Cox.
Magee praised Chief Cox’s integrity and heart for the community, calling him a natural fit for the position.
“He was doing a lot of things managerial while the former chief was here, so it was actually a natural for him to advance to chief,” Magee said.
Last week, Magee named Cox as his choice to be the city’s next top cop. Cox, a 22-year law enforcement veteran, has served in several positions in the department he will now run including patrol, criminal investigations and with juveniles.
“He has the respect of the rank and file in the department, and I believe this will continue,” Magee said of Cox.