Warsaw-- Police Chief Leaves Force

Joyce Coates
Enterprise Staff
Police Chief David Jones will retire on December 22, 2017 after more than 40 years with the Warsaw Police Department. To retire, according to official definitions, means to leave one’s job or profession and cease to work. Not so for Jones who said he will be “slowing down, but not staying idle for too long.” 
Getting ready for retirement is a process of dealing with facts, feelings, and often some uncertainty about the future.  Jones said he has been thinking about retiring for a while. He was eligible to retire seven years ago, but he was only 55 and not at all ready to do so. 
“But now that the paperwork is in, that’s it,” he said, matter-of-factly, “It’s been a good run.” 
The chief talked about how his law enforcement career began. He was born in Branson, MO. His family returned to Missouri from Louisiana in 1972 and settled in Warsaw. He had no plans or intentions to become a police officer, but he said the police chief at the time, Wilbur “Skipper” See, kept asking him “How old are you now? Come and see me when you’re 21 and I’ll make you a police officer.”
See asked that question again in 1977 when Jones turned 21.  “Go to Sedalia and buy a gun and holster,” See told him, “then come back and get your uniform.” So that’s what Jones did, and how he became a reserve police officer, working weekends. His on-the-job training began when Chief See handed him the keys to a police car and sent him out on patrol.   
Jones became a full-time officer with regular patrol duties in 1992. Since then he has held every rank, promoted from Corporal to Sergeant, then to Lieutenant until appointed Chief of Police in July 2004. His mentors were chiefs of police he had served with. He especially respected and admired Gary Friar, the police chief from July 1993 to December 2000 who then served as Benton County Sheriff for four years.  Friar taught him how to handle everyday operations. He showed Jones by example how to build relationships and work well with people.  They stayed close as coworkers and then as friends for the rest of Friar’s life. 
Jones’ own words show that he has never focused only on getting “the facts,” but on serving the community according to what he believes about relationships. Quoting from an article in the Enterprise on July 14, “Jones said his department’s goal is to help people – to treat everyone with respect. They build good relationships in several ways. They respond to calls about animal pests overturning trashcans, help the elderly who have no one else to call on; and he personally likes to hand out toys and candy to the children playing in the neighborhoods.”
Looking back over the past 40 years, Jones said, “The city has changed completely.” Warsaw was largely a farm town where many people knew everyone else who lived and worked here. There was tourism before, yet since about 2000, there has been a large and steady influx of tourists.  The design of the city has changed; the enhancements at Drake Harbor are among the most dramatic changes. All this is a good thing for the city Jones said, at the same time personally, he misses the many people he knew for a long time who are now gone.
He remembers when patrol officers wrote their various reports in their cars on single sheets of paper; how hard and time-consuming it used to be to find files in the boxes of records. Having a typewriter used to be a great thing, Jones recalls. 
Technology has changed everything for the better, but officers were skeptical at first. Now, with computerized databases they just click on the screen to retrieve documents online. Police wear body cameras and patrol cars are equipped with cameras as well. Videos from the car cameras upload electronically to the main computer whenever an officer returns and parks outside the station.
For all that, Jones said, “The main job is still helping people out. Real police work was never about kicking down doors or busting up people.  It is about answering calls from whomever and responding to whatever the need is.”
Christmas Day will find Jones, three days out of uniform, spending time with his family. Later, he plans to go fishing more often. An avid reader, he prefers “real life” stories about hunting, motorcycles, and civil and military history. Likewise, when he watches television, he prefers shows closer to reality, like “Cops, and “Forensic Files.” 
Jones has loved his job and his coworkers. Life in his hometown is rewarding because of the people he has come to know over the years. He was once the sole proprietor of a construction business, and he may go back to that. No doubt, he said, “I will find something to do because I cannot stay idle for long.”
Mayor Simons received notice this week of Jones’ retirement, and respects the chief’s decision. “I am very grateful,” Simons said, “and I personally thank Chief Jones for his 40 years of dedicated service; for being on call 24/7 all these years to fill a very important position.”  
The Mayor and alderpersons will begin the process to select a new chief of police at their next meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017. 
City officials and employees will host a retirement party for Chief Jones on December 22 in the Community Building.  The Enterprise joins the mayor and the people of Warsaw to wish Chief David Jones a long, happy, healthy and adventurous new phase of life!