By Joel Hall
With nearly the full consent of the Jonesboro City Council, former Grantville Police Chief Winston Franklin Allen, Jr., was sworn in as the city's new police chief, on Monday.
The council voted 5-1 in favor of making Allen Jonesboro's top cop. Councilman Joe Compton was opposed to Allen's appointment.
Allen was formally sworn in during a special called meeting, following a 20-minute executive session. Allen, who was bestowed with his police chief's badge during the meeting, said he is excited to come on board with the city.
"I'm very excited to be able to come into a progressive city like Jonesboro," Allen said Monday night. "They are constantly working on making improvements, so I am happy to be a part of that. I know there were some highly qualified applicants. I am glad the council saw that I had the experience, the education, and training to be the police chief."
From April 2006, until late last month, Allen served as police chief of Grantville, a city twice the size of Jonesboro with only a third of the people. While Jonesboro is slightly more urban than Grantville, Allen said he believes a small-town approach to policing will work in Jonesboro. "In addressing the needs of the citizens, I have an open-door policy, and I will be willing to help them anytime, day or night," he said. "The main thing I bring from Grantville is the ability to listen to the citizens and find out their needs. I plan to get out, personally, and drive the neighborhoods and meet people."
Since the beginning of this year, the city has installed multiple permanent and interim police chiefs. Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said the installment of Allen would bring some much-needed stability.
"We have a man who is well-qualified ... hopefully, we can quit the bickering and get the job done," Maddox said. "We need to have stability in the chief's job and that will improve the morale of the police department tremendously."
Most members of the city council offered praise over Allen's appointment.
"He just had plenty of experience, plenty of training, and he could also do training in-house for our officers ... We felt like he was more beneficial than others," said Councilman Clarence Mann. He said that with Allen's experience and certifications, the city's officers would be able to receive special training without having to go outside of the city.
"He's a good communicator," said Councilman Roger Grider. "We felt like it was time to bring in someone from outside to step back and take a look at our organization ... and let us know what needs improvement, what they think we are doing right, what they think we are doing wrong."
Compton, who voted against Allen's appointment, said he believes the process was rushed, and that he wasn't satisfied with the city's background check on Allen. He declined further comment, because matters concerning Allen's employment were discussed during an executive session of the council.
Allen begins his first day as police chief today.