Springfield — The Springfield Board of Aldermen on Wednesday accepted the resignation of former police chief James Jones, who was court-ordered to step down as a condition of a plea agreement reached last month involving his participation in a ticket-fixing scheme.
Authorities have also claimed Mayor Charles Martin was involved in the incident, and he is scheduled to go to trial in the matter next month.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Martin read Jones’ resignation letter, in which the former chief cited “unfortunate circumstances” for his departure.
Martin said he has been administering the department in the weeks since Jones was ordered to resign.
The Board selected town police Officer Steve Meyers to serve as interim chief until a permanent replacement is chosen. Meyers, who began working for the department part-time in August, was recommended by Alderman Tommy Abels, who said he was a “neutral” choice but declined to elaborate.
Meyers said he has 16 years’ experience in law enforcement with the Harahan Police Department and as a reserve Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s deputy. He also owns Meyers Termite and Pest Control.
He said he will throw his hat in the ring when the town looks for a permanent chief to lead the department, which had one full-time officer and five part-time officers, according to Assistant Police Chief Randy Linder, the town’s sole full-time officer.
It was unclear Wednesday evening whether the interim chief’s position would be full-time or part-time. Alderwoman Mildred Cowsar said it would likely be a short-term, part-time role mostly concerned with scheduling.
When asked whether he would have to restore public trust in the department following the former chief’s guilty plea, Meyers said the case was a “personal” matter.
“I don’ think there is an issue right now. … The matter is resolved.”
However, prosecutors have implicated Martin in the same case in which Jones was ordered to step down, and the mayor’s legal battle has not yet been resolved.
“It’s gonna have no effect on the police department,” Meyers said of the mayor’s case.
Martin said the people of Springfield always stood by Jones, as evidenced by the fact that he served four years after the ticket-fixing issue occurred.
“No one made no complaints. … This community has no problem with Mr. Jones,” the mayor said.
Martin has been offered a deal and can also avoid his four felony charges if he accepts similar terms, including resignation, prosecutors have said.
He declined to discuss his case following Wednesday’s meeting.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.