ARLINGTON, Texas - A longtime police officer from Maryland is coming to Arlington to be the new police chief.
Col. Al Jones is a 25-year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department and will begin his new job in January. He beat out more than 70 others for the position.
Arlington's city manager says he selected Jones because of his experience with community-based policing and his ability to lead.
Jones started his law enforcement career as an officer and rose through the ranks. He's in a leadership role now, serving as the chief of the Community Relations Bureau.
Working alongside the community is a big part of Jones’ philosophy.
“I think that is a more solid approach than just trying to do it ourselves as the police as we've always done in the past,” he said.
About 830,000 people live in Baltimore County, which encompasses the city of Baltimore. Arlington has nearly 400,000 residents.
Arlington has a diverse population. Jones says the department should as much as possible mirror that.
“We actually have to make sure that we're recruiting a more diverse workforce so that we have officers that can relate to those different communities and different demographics throughout the city,” he said.
Jones says he’s aware of Arlington officer-involved shootings in recent years and the lack of trust some might have in the department.
“You can't have a real trusting relationship if you don’t have open and honest dialog,” he said.
Jones says there is room for a civilian review board but not with subpoena power.
“To make sure we've completed a thorough investigation, interviewed all witnesses, allowing them to review recordings, all of those things I think is important,” Jones said. “But I just don’t think that giving them subpoena power is something that I feel comfortable with right off the bat.”
The new chief says training of officers that includes cultural competency and implicit bias awareness is tied to creating better relationships. He wants the people his department will protect and serve to be a part of that training.
“So that they can start talking to the recruits and the officers who are in-service about their needs about their culture,” Jones said. “Because I think once you start understanding a person’s culture and what their needs are, that’s when you start breaking these silos down and you start trying to build that trust.”
Jones says he's looking forward to building relationships between officers and the neighborhoods they serve. He says he'll take a data-driven approach to solving problems.
Jones replaces Chief Will Johnson who retired from the Arlington Police Department over the summer.
Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye will continue to serve as interim police chief until Jones takes over January 11.