WDAM Investigates: Chief concerns in Lumberton

WDAM Investigates: Chief concerns in Lumberton

LUMBERTON, Miss. (WDAM) - His name is Adam Jones and he’s now the top cop in Lumberton. He was unexpectedly sworn in Tuesday night in a 4-1 vote by the Board of Alderman. It’s a swearing in delayed once already with a lot of people questioning why.

"The delay was a personnel issue that we’ve been discussing,” said Lumberton Mayor Quincy Rogers.

Rogers and other city leaders would only say personnel matters kept Jones from being sworn in. WDAM Investigates uncovered what could be part of those personnel matters. It’s a complaint filed against Jones accusing him of being an accessory to domestic assault back in December, when he was just an officer.

WDAM questioned Mayor Rogers about the complaint, asking if any of those personnel issues had anything to do with Chief Jones being accused of accessory to domestic assault. Jones said it did not and he wasn’t familiar with the complaint. WDAM then showed the mayor a copy, which even names him as having knowledge.

“OK, this is a complaint that was filed by a young woman out of Hattiesburg,” Rogers said.

The complaint alleges Jones was called during a domestic assault in December, happening while he was on duty as a Lumberton police officer. Instead of sending dispatch, the complaint alleges Jones sent someone referred to as a “line brother” or “correction officer.”

While the alleged assault didn’t happen within Lumberton’s jurisdiction, the complaint accuses Jones of being involved when he “heard a crime was going on, stated he was calling dispatch and did not call.” The complaint was filed in early March 2019, a few weeks before Jones was named interim chief.

The following month, in April, the alleged victim even met with Mayor Rogers and two board members about the allegations. Rogers confirmed the meeting and said he brought the complaint to the board’s attention.

“As mayor all I can do is bring it to the board, bring it to the board’s attention and let them look at it, and whatever they decide to do that’s what we do," Rogers said.

After the swearing in Tuesday night, board member Johnny Buckley, who voted in favor of swearing Jones in, didn’t want to answer our questions. He did acknowledge he was aware of the complaint but didn’t want to talk about it, before pushing our microphone away and getting into his truck outside City Hall.

The only board member to vote against swearing in the chief was Susan Crittenden, who we spoke with by phone. She said her decision was based on what she calls “unacceptable behavior” by Jones while on duty.

We waited hours for Jones at the police department Wednesday, his first official day as chief. He never made himself available for an interview.

When asked whether he thought the complaint would affect Jones’ position, Mayor Rogers said he wasn’t sure.

“I hope not. I seriously hope not, but I wouldn’t rule that out,” Rogers said.

A revolving door of police chiefs in Lumberton has become common, much of it with little transparency from city leaders.

Jones became interim chief back in late March, when former interim chief Larry Allen resigned. There was no reason given for his departure.

Allen served as interim for about seven months. Before him, it was Carlus Page who, back in August, was demoted by the board to officer, with no explanation.

Page served as chief for about four months. He became chief after Shane Flynt resigned in February 2018 amid a controversial video, aired by WDAM, of him appearing to smoke marijuana.

Flynt led the department for about five months, replacing Elsie Cowart, who the board voted to fire in September 2017, reportedly because of her failing to properly handle a drive-by shooting case which happened at the home of board member Audrey Davis. Cowart had been chief since 2012.

Tuesday night’s swearing in happened after the board was peppered with questions from citizens wanting to know what was happening. The Mayor said it was a rushed decision, happening at a time when personnel matters are still being sorted out.

“It’s not something that I like. It’s not something that I would like to look at as a mayor, no,” Rogers said.

These are just allegations and with Adam Jones now wearing the badge, the mayor and board members say they do hope he does a good job as chief despite this now hanging over the department.

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