Jones leaving after 31 years at sheriff’s office

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 27, 2002

Warren County Chief Deputy of Operations Otho Jones, far right, shares a laugh with Deputy J.J. Kight at Jones’ retirement party Thursday at the Warren County Jail. Looking on from left are Deputy Kenneth Ballard, Deputy Jeff Riggs and Sheriff Martin Pace. Jones officially retires Monday after 31 years with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[09/27/02]Things will be different around the Warren County Sheriff’s Department come Monday.

It will be Otho Jones’ last day as chief deputy of operations, and he will retire with 31 years of service to Warren County.

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When Jones, now 65, went to work for former Sheriff Paul Barrett on Jan. 1, 1972, he was the county’s first full-time black deputy sheriff.

Over the years, he held the posts of assistant chief deputy, chief deputy and sheriff in late 1995 between Barrett’s retirement and the appointment of Martin Pace to serve through 1996. When Pace took office, first as interim sheriff and then after winning the election that fall and taking office in January 1997, Jones stayed on as the chief deputy in charge of administration. In that post, he has been in charge of the adult jail, the youth detention center and all office functions, including court bailiffs and prisoner transportation.

“There is no way in just a few minutes I could tell all of what this man has done for Warren County,” Pace said Thursday at a reception honoring Jones on his retirement. “It’s not going to seem like the same place without him.”

Pace worked with Jones, first as a patrol deputy and investigator under Barrett and then as sheriff.

The sheriff said young officers could learn a lot about how to be a policeman by studying how Jones did his job.

After Pace presented Jones with a plaque displaying his assistant chief deputy and chief deputy badges, and a personal commendation, Richard George, president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors and representative for District 5, presented a resolution of commendation calling Jones “a role model to new and veteran officers.”

The board also commended Jones for his service to the community and for his work as a mentor and counselor to young people.

Responding to the comments, Jones said the person responsible for what he became, his wife, Mary Ella, could not be present because of the heavy rain due to Tropical Storm Isidore.

He had advice for the people who work for the sheriff’s department now and in the future.

“Get behind your sheriff and do the right thing. Support your sheriff and he will support you,” he said.

Later, Jones, an avid sportsman, said he hoped retirement will allow him time to enjoy hunting and fishing as much as he wants.

It has been “days like this, I’d be off,” he said gesturing to the rain and wind that lashed the Warren County Jail where the reception was held. “Maybe now I will be able to go on the good days.”

“I can’t put into words what he has contributed to law enforcement and public service in Warren County,” Pace said later.

Jones is an institution in Warren County, said Warren County Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick.

“When I first got here as an assistant district attorney, I can remember Chief Jones helping me (learn) what to do and what not to do,” Patrick said.

“We wish him the best and wish he was not leaving so soon,” he said.