Pair at work for VPD keeping residents safe

Published 1:09 pm Monday, December 7, 2015

Taking over the family business happens a lot as generations progress, and this mother daughter team has chosen to spend their careers serving in uniform.

Penny Jones has been at the Vicksburg Police Department for 16 years, and her daughter Alexis Hall has chosen to follow in her footsteps.

“She was hired September 2015, and I was hired September 1999,” Jones said.

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Strong women run in their family with their aunt Gertrude Cosby who is retired from the Detroit Police Department.

Hall graduated from the 12-week Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy in Pearl Wednesday, Dec. 2., where she trained in active shooter, firearms, domestic violence, report writing, defensive tactics and many more areas.

“[I’m] Just finishing the academy, [and] I’m about to come on,” Hall said. “I’m ready.”

Both women work patrol, but they will be working different shifts. Hall’s first day on the job was the night shift Thursday, and Jones is a supervisor over a shift during the day and at this time will not be working the same hours as her daughter.

As a supervisor, Jones’ responsibilities include a lot of paperwork like setting the schedule, making assignments, reading reports and making sure everything is on track. Hall will still be training for another 10 weeks before she can be considered to get her own patrol car.

Hall had been a student at Xavier University of Louisiana working towards going to dental school, but soon realized the profession would not be for her. Being a fan of the CSI television shows, admiring her mother and growing up around the police department her whole life, Hall saw the officers as her family already and chose to pursue the occupation at the University of Southern Mississippi.

“She’s a strong-willed woman, and she knows what she wants so I back her 100 percent with whatever she wants to do,” Jones said. “She could have been a tooth fairy, and I would have been behind her.”

Jones has supported her daughter through all her decisions no matter what profession she chose, and said she wasn’t really surprised by her daughter’s choice to join the force.

“I felt like she would because in reality she has actually grown up around the police department,” Jones said. “Some of the guys knew her when she was a little girl and now she’s an adult. They know her. It’s like a family.”

Other than Lt. Dora Smith, now retired, who worked at the VPD a few years ago with her twin sons, one now in narcotics at the VPD and the other in the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Jones said she can’t recall any mother daughters at the same police department.

However, Hall knew from the start she wanted to work in Vicksburg.

For four years Jones has been a watch commander. Previously she has worked in narcotics, investigations in the detective bureau and crime scene. She describes herself as a people person who finds enjoyment in helping others, seeing it as an accomplishment.

“It would seem strange that police officers want to help people, but we do more good than people actually know,” Jones said.

Hall said she wished people understood that not all police officers are bad. She really doesn’t like the recent discord between officers and the public that have caused issues around the country.

“[The] Majority of them are just doing our jobs and the media usually portrays one side of the story and not the full story,” Hall said. “And it usually makes the police officer look bad.”

As for their future at the department, Jones is excited to see where the journey takes them.

“[I’m] Looking forward to her progressing in her career,” Jones said.