Pine Bluff Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones was fired by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth on Tuesday afternoon.
The action came after a meeting between Hollingsworth, who was sworn in officially early Tuesday morning, and Davis-Jones that began at 2 p.m. at City Hall.
According to a press release from Hollingsworth, Davis-Jones was relieved of her duties as chief at 2:05 p.m., and retired Police Lt. Jeff Hubanks was named interim chief a short time later.
After accepting the interim job, Hubanks promised a large group of officers who had waited outside the civic center to learn the fate of Davis-Jones that “the mayor laid out her platform and it’s going to take some time but my job is to create an atmosphere that will let you do what you know how to do.”
Earlier Tuesday, during her public swearing-in ceremony, Hollingsworth said one of her first actions as mayor would be to introduce legislation to restore the Civil Service Commission which was abolished by the Pine Bluff City Council last year.
Officer Chris Powell, local president of the Pine Bluff Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, said shortly after Davis-Jones was fired that “Mayor Hollingsworth has pleased everyone with her actions today and the era of tyranny is over.”
The membership of the Benevolent Association approved a no-confidence vote on Davis-Jones last year.
Hubanks was introduced to a cheering crowd of police officers, many of whom had waited in the parking lot of the civic center for more than an hour to hear the fate of their former chief and then went to the second floor of the Civic Center, first gathering in the Mayor’s conference room, then outside the door and around the second story railing to hear from their new chief.
“I guess my retirement is over,” said Hubanks, who retired in February after more than 27 years with the department. During that time, he worked in Patrol, Detectives, Vice, Training, Internal Affairs and was commander of the department’s SWAT team for 11 or 12 years.
He also started the department’s Crime Lab, its polygraph program, and said he was especially proud of creating the ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) unit that “is doing good work and making good cases.”
His promise of “no micromanagement” brought a cheer from the officers assembled, and he asked them to “let the bitterness go. Last year is over. Let’s move forward.”
Hubanks also asked the officers to “be good to each other,” and to the people they work for.
Shortly after Davis-Jones left the civic center complex in a private vehicle, officers were at her apartment complex, where they seized her city-issued vehicle.
She had reportedly emptied out much of her office Sunday and a photographer reported that when she left the civic center on Tuesday, the driver “squealed the tires on the vehicle” Davis-Jones was in, while Davis-Jones reportedly turned away from photographers.
The keys to Davis-Jones’ city-owned vehicle, and the keys to the chief’s office were given to Hubanks by Patrol Lt. Terry Hopson, who was one of those who went to the apartment complex to seize the car.
Hubanks was to be sworn in by Court of Appeals Judge Waymond Brown, who earlier Tuesday administered the oath of office to Hollingsworth.
Davis-Jones, who formerly worked for the Macon, Ga., Police Department and then for a college in Georgia, was hired by former Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., in 2010 after Redus fired former chief John Howell.
Late last year, Davis-Jones was selected as the director of public safety for a school district in Georgia but that offer was later withdrawn by the school administration. Davis-Jones, through a police spokesman, denied having been offered the job.