VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — Chief Penny Jones is paving history as the first woman to become police chief in Vicksburg; however, she isn’t doing it just for her community.
She’s also doing it for her daughter who is following in her footsteps as a woman in law enforcement.
Investigator Alexis Hall started at the Vicksburg Police Department in September 2015 — exactly 16 years after her mother. While she started at Xavier University in New Orleans on a dentistry track, she decided to make the switch to criminal justice. Growing up in a household with two police officers, her mother and stepfather, it was natural when Hall decided to make this change.
“It wasn’t that big of a jump for me,” Hall said. “I always loved watching the CSI shows and coming to justice, so it was always there.”
Jones said her daughter is a great officer and they keep it professional at work, but she likes that Hall is able to confidently come to her with questions and concerns.
“It makes me feel good that she’s been able to watch me over the years before she ever became a police officer, so she knows what hard work it is,” Jones said.
When asked the biggest lesson Hall learned from her mother growing up, she quickly answered, “Be honest.” Hall said she loves that she gets to continue to learn from her mother all the time because they work on the same force. Although they don’t directly work together, since Jones became chief, the mother and daughter duo work the same shift.
“Even though we don’t hand-in-hand work together, I still get to see her every day,” Hall said. “She knows so much and she’s teaching me.”
As police officers, Jones and Hall are two of few women in law enforcement. Jones said looking at their positions, other young women and girls can see there is a spot for them, too, in this traditionally male-dominated field.
“We are breaking the glass ceilings continuously,” Jones said. “Just know that it’s not just about being a police officer. If you decide you want to be a football player, you can do it. It’s all in your mindset.”
Hall said she thinks she and her mother are a great example breaking glass ceilings can be done. She said the pair can work together side-by-side, regardless of Hall being the only woman in her department and her mother being the first female chief.
“Do it,” Hall said. “If (a law enforcement career) is something that you really want to do, put your mind to it and do it.”
Hall and Jones both said law enforcement is a great career for women to be in, mainly because of their empathy and their instinct to get the story first before taking action.
“One particular reason why I say it’s a good field for women to be in is I think women are more compassionate in certain instances,” Jones said. “Women want to hear all the issues first, and then try to solve the problem. Sometimes you can’t always solve the problem, but we just take a little more time.”
Hall said when her mother was appointed police chief, it meant everything to her. She said Jones is making history and giving herself and other women and girls something to strive for.
“She shows that I don’t have to be just an investigator,” Hall said. “I can be chief like my mama.”