The Ringgold City Council on Monday, July 27, named 40-year-old Jennifer Jones as its new police chief.

Jones became “officer in charge” at the Ringgold Police Department after the resignation of Dan Bilbrey as police chief in late January.

Bilbrey, who had been with the department about 10 years, claimed, among other things, that the police department had been overlooked, underfunded and understaffed. He also complained that City Manager Dan Wright had placed a tracker on his police vehicle continuously over the past two years.

Jones, before taking over as officer in charge at the Ringgold Police Department in February 2020, was a detective at the department beginning in December 2017.

She also worked part-time as a peace officer for Georgia Northwestern Technical College, a job she began in September 2018.

Past employment includes: sales associate and department liaison at GT Distributors Inc. in Rossville, from April 2017 to December 2017; part-time reserve officer with the LaFayette Police Department from April 2017 to December 2017; patrolman and sergeant the LaFayette Police Department from February 2008 to April 2017; and patrolman at the Henry County Police Department in McDonough, Ga., from November 2006 to February 2008.

Jones majored in business administration at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.; holds an associate of arts degree from Art Institute of Atlanta in Dunwoody, Ga. and graduated summa cum laude; attended the Clayton Regional Law Enforcement Academy in Jonesboro, Ga.

Her training includes: POST-certified instructor, crisis intervention team member, certified marijuana examiner, evidence room custodian/technician, Supervision Certification and Management Level I and II, certified SWAT operator, field training officer, intermediate and advanced Certifications, Glock-certified armorer, radar certified, TASER certified, Standardized Field Sobriety and Intoxilyzer 9000, and adult crime tactics specialist.

A three-member panel consisting of city manager Wright, Mayor Nick Millwood and Human Resources Director Gina Wilson, whittled a field about 20 candidates — including some out-of-state applicants — to two finalists, with the City Council making the final decision.

The other finalist was Brandon Bell, 40, coordinating chief for the Dalton office of the Department of Community Supervision (DCS) since September 2015. Prior to that, beginning in 2005, he held DSC positions as senior officer, field training officer, assistant chief and chief officer.

“They were both very good candidates,” Wright said.

“Jennifer Jones wants to be a champion for our city,” Millwood said, “and she’s passionate and she’s invested. … She’s about everything that we had hoped for in her vision and in her dedication. And it was inspiring listening to her speak about wanting to be a true servant for our city and I was moved by some of the things she had to say.”

The council’s vote was unanimous (5-0).

Don Stilwell is editor for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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