ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) -- The announcement came as a surprise to many: Roanoke police Chief Tim Jones stepping down after almost 40 years on the force.
In a statement, the Chief said, “It has been a privilege to serve the City of Roanoke, especially the last three years as Chief of Police. I am thankful for the continuous community and business support of the Roanoke Police Department.”
Jones spent the entirety of his career in Roanoke, including three years as chief. And after all that time, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea says Jones will leave a legacy to be proud of.
“I think it's going be one of strong community engagement. I think he always comes out to meet with citizens, to talk about crime and public safety,” said Lea.
But Jones's tenure hasn't come without controversy. Six months ago, the chief was accused of blaming rape victims for their own assaults in comments to city council. That led some in the community to call for his resignation
One of the organizations leading that call, Roanoke Indivisible, released a statement following Jones’s announcement. In it, the group said, “Roanoke Indivisible has spent the last six months ensuring that our Roanoke City Council members heard why Chief Jones had lost our confidence to be the best steward of our public safety.”
However, City Manager Bob Cowell says that controversy has nothing to do with the chief's announcement. “This was something the chief had arrived at on his own,” said Cowell.
According to the city manager, Jones will continue to lead the department as the city searches for his replacement. The city has until February 1, the day Jones will officially step down, to find a suitable candidate. The city will bring in an outside firm to help search for the new chief, and is open to candidates from inside and outside the Roanoke Police Department.
According to Mayor Sherman Lea, the city hopes to find someone who can continue Jones's legacy of community engagement, pushing the department into the future.
“We're going to be looking hard, working hard to make sure we bring the right person in to make a difference in our community,” said Lea.
Copyright 2019/WDBJ7. All rights reserved.