MOUNT CARMEL — On Monday, newly elected Mount Carmel Mayor Larry Frost promoted longtime Assistant Police Chief Mike Campbell to chief, relegating Jeff Jackson to patrolman after 13 years at the head of the department.
Frost also appointed Vice Mayor Paul Hale as the public safety director — a position also previously held by Jackson.
Hale was also appointed liaison to the police department for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Fred Arnold was appointed the BMA liaison to the fire department.
“We just thought it would be better for the city of Mount Carmel if we changed the chief of police,” said Frost, who defeated three-term incumbent Gary Lawson for mayor in November. “It’s no reflection on Jeff (Jackson), but we thought it was time to go in a different direction, and we needed to make some departmental changes — and that’s what we did. Jeff did a great job for the city, and he continues to do a great job, but we wanted to make some interdepartmental changes.”
Campbell started his career in law enforcement with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office in 1989 and joined the Mount Carmel Police Department in 1997.
When Jackson was appointed chief in 1999, he named Campbell as his assistant chief.
Campbell’s impending promotion was one of the worst-kept secrets in Mount Carmel throughout the month of December.
Campbell said that month gave him time to get prepared for his new responsibilities.
“I’m not going to really stop doing what I’ve always been doing, but I will have some more responsibilities,” Campbell said. “It was a change the new (mayoral) administration was looking at from the very beginning, and Chief Jackson had some important things he was working on and didn’t want to put those things off on me. The official announcement was postponed about the whole month of December.”
Campbell added, “For the time being there won’t be an assistant chief, but we’re going to be looking at it. There will be times I won’t be here, and Jeff (Jackson) is planning on retiring, so, somebody will have to be in charge when I’m not here. We’ll look at that in the future.”
Campbell said he and Jackson have been like brothers for many years, and he’s glad that Jackson will still be with the department for the foreseeable future.
Jackson joined the MCPD as a reserve officer in 1981 and became a full-time officer in 1984.
“I really care about this city and I really love the police department, and I’ve worked in many capacities in this department,” Jackson said. “If the mayor wants to go in a different direction, we’ll just have to support the mayor’s decision. The mayor has placed the police department in good hands by appointing Mike Campbell chief.”
Campbell said Monday that since being promoted to assistant chief in 1999 his goal has been to eventually become chief.
“It’s something I’ve wanted all these years, so I’m excited, eager, pleased,” Campbell said. “But before I would even consider accepting this promotion, there were two things that I wanted. First and foremost I wanted the support of the residents of Mount Carmel. If a number of people stood up and said, ‘We don’t want that to happen,’ then I wouldn’t have accepted the job.”
Campbell added, “I have the backing of the people in town, but just as important I have the backing of the police officers in this department. If my officers who have worked under me all these years and worked under Chief Jackson all these years — if they didn’t want it to happen it wouldn’t do me any good to be chief because they wouldn’t perform under me the way the town of Mount Carmel deserves. I have the backing of the residents and the officers, so I gladly accept.”