Springfield police chief rehired after resigning for criminal mischief
SPRINGFIELD - Springfield's top cop was back at work this week after he resigned last year as part of a plea deal, and that's raising eyebrows at the Attorney General's Office.
Police Chief James Jones and Mayor Charles Martin pleaded guilty to covering up a 2011 DWI arrest for a friend. Both men faced four felony charges but instead pleaded down to one charge of misdemeanor criminal mischief. Jones and Martin has to complete community service and give up their jobs. Jones stepped down in April 2015.
However, Jones says Springfield leaders and the community wanted him back after he completed the plea agreement terms. The chief says he also fills a void since the small Livingston Parish town did not have a police chief. Jones has been back on the job for three days.
"I'm going to get back to work, and I'm going to put this behind me. We're going to try to get things straight at the police department in the town of Springfield," he said.
Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell, who prosecuted Jones, says things like this make Louisiana a laughing stock.
"I think the decision, any decision like that, is so incredibly and unbelievably dumb that it just violates any of the tenets of common sense," he said. "The fact that they have somebody on the police force that's running the police force that has plead guilty to destroying evidence is going to be exhibit A in any case even if he wasn't involved."
Springfield Attorney Brian Abel says he and town leaders looked into the matter before giving the green light for Jones' return. Jones says he wants to put the past behind him and move forward.
Newly elected Attorney General Jeff Landry will look over cases like this when he takes office on Jan. 11. Until then Landry's administration will not comment on cases.