by Josh Brown
Beaver Falls Police Chief Charles Jones says the challenge of balancing the responsibilities of being Chief of Police and a Christian lay minister, “once people recognize that you’re a Christian, let alone a lay minister, they want to challenge your authority and position. As the saying goes, they take your kindness as a weakness at some point.
“God has worked it out for me that what comes as a challenge for some is natural to me.”
He is often expected to show more than an accepted level of leniency to offenders. Jones said, “God has blessed me to just be who I am and who He has called me to be.”
Many though, work along with him because they know him either from church affairs or as a citizen of the city.
Jones, a lay minister at Second Baptist Church in Beaver Falls was named Beaver Falls Chief of Police in 2008.
Jones has been married for 17 years to his wife, Regina, who has been a school teacher for 15 years. They have two children.
Jones is the second African-American police chief to serve the city. Rod Demery, who served in the 1990s during a time when Beaver Falls had four Black officers on the force, was the first. Jones, who has been a policeman in Beaver Falls nearly 19 years is currently the only Black on the force. He also served one year as an officer in Ambridge, Pa., and almost five years with the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office.
Jones has worked in law enforcement his entire adult life. Born and raised in Beaver Falls, he graduated from Lincoln High School in Elwood City, Pa., enlisting in the U.S. Air Force within a year of his graduation. Jones said that while growing up, he always was a champion for the weak, those who were picked on, bullied and intimidated by others. He always took up for them because God gave him a nature to help and defend the underdog. While in the Air Force, he realized he had a strong interest in law enforcement. He became a member of the Security Force, where his law enforcement career began around age 18.
Jones has filled many positions since being with the Beaver Falls Police Department. He has been a Sergeant, a Captain and was a canine handler for 12 years. He also trained officers and handled public relations for the Department. He is also a recent graduate of the National FBI Academy, where the ’best of the best’ law enforcement officers, both domestic and international receive exemplary training.
He said he thanks God for the opportunity and for being selected to such a elite group. Jones was nominated for the Academy by one of the Pittsburgh FBI agents, and was recommended by the Pittsburgh chapter and endorsed for one of their positions in the Academy.
“It was a humbling experience and a huge honor, to have been chosen,” he said.
It also helps that Beaver Falls mayor, Karl Boak and several city council members are Christians. Jones gives God all the glory and praise for direction and for his achievements and position.
“Being Chief of Police is a bigger challenge because God’s standards never change, and the standards don’t change within law enforcement, but just the day to day dealing with administrative things, dealing with law enforcement, with personalities with my employees, different personalities within the community, but I find a lot of harmony with it because many of the same people I deal with in the community are the same people I shares fellowship with in church. Being chief is more demanding.”
Jones said the whole Pittsburgh area struggles with economic hardship as its main problem, and with bad economics, there is an increased level of crime, drug sales and drug usage. These are big problems here, as in most areas. The police are expected to come up with solutions to the problems caused by crime that are plaguing our communities. Chief Jones is currently in partnership with state and federal agencies to combat these problems. Though the force is doing the best they can, and the problems seem to get worse, Jones considers it as a problem brought about by sin and estrangement from God. He said he gives thanks to God for the knowledge and experience that enables him to be a police chief, and prays for guidance to help him do the most effective job possible to fight crime and to protect and serve the citizens of Beaver Falls.
“The root problem is sin, we are living in a fallen world. Only God can completely solve the problem,” he said.
This doesn’t mean that people in communities can just sit back and do nothing to help solve the problem, everyone must do their part, he said. Beaver Falls has five housing areas that are patrolled within its 2.5 square mile city limits, and Jones noted that the local Neighborhood Watch Program has been a huge success, and is extremely helpful to him and the force. Watch meetings regularly draw between 30 and 40 citizens who are all committed to helping make the city safer.
Jones’ faith in God helps him carry out his duties as chief and has had an effect on how his officers approach their service to the community.
He has 17 officers and hopes to add one more within the next week or so, and is working with city council to add more. Like all police chiefs, Jones says he always needs more officers. Beaver Falls, at one time had upwards of 25-30 officers at a time when call volumes were much lower than they are today.
It should be noted that population in the communities is less than half of what it was 20-30 years ago, but the current level of crime and calls to the police department are significantly higher.
Chief Jones says he would like to see more African- Americans and women apply and take the police officer test. The highest number of Black applicants during his career in Beaver Falls was when he applied 19 years ago. On occasion, there is one applicant, but usually there are none. He would love to see at least one Black officer on the force before his tenure is up.
He has met with groups that deal with youth issues regarding this, and cites several reasons for the lack of interest among African-American youth. Many just don’t consider law enforcement as a career choice, with many it’s peer pressure and the trend that “it’s not considered to be cool being a cop.” He would like to see a few Blacks and some female officers become part of the Department.
Jones is a Sunday School teacher and is currently a part-time professor at Geneva College, where he teaches management, and the college also is interested in him teaching criminal justice courses. He has a strong desire to teach full time, if and when he is no longer a police officer.