Scott officially takes charge as 26th police chief  

Chief Lonnie Scott said the role of a police officer is a calling
Gainesville Police Chief Lonnie Scott said the role of a police officer is a calling at his swearing-in ceremony on Monday at the Santa Fe College's Blount Center. (Photo by Seth Johnson)
Chief Lonnie Scott's wife, Karlene, and son, Lonnie Scott Jr., pin on his new badge
Photo by Seth Johnson Gainesville Police Chief Lonnie Scott’s daughter, Karlene, and son, Lonnie Scott Jr., pin on his new badge during the swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

Chief Lonnie Scott joined the ranks of 25 Gainesville Police Department (GPD) chiefs before him at Monday evening’s swearing-in ceremony, taking the place of Tony Jones who will transition to special advisor for juvenile justice and community support programs.  

Gainesville announced the change on July 13 after Scott had managed the role of active police chief since January while Jones worked as chief operating officer for the city.  

Mayor Lauren Poe said the stressful nature of the chief of police position prevents most from leaving on their own terms. Political winds change, or unfortunate circumstances strike. 

“I’m grateful to our outgoing and incoming chief for allowing us to experience this transition this way because it elevates all of us,” Poe said. “It shows us the better angels of our nature, and it allows us to keep doing the work together.” 

Scott said the role of a police officer, and all those in uniform, is a calling and alluded to the Isaiah 6 passage where the prophet offers his service. He said officers enter the role not for money or community praise but because of this calling. 

Tony Jones speaks during his introduction as Gainesville's special advisor for juvenile justice and community support programs.
Photo by Seth Johnson Tony Jones speaks during his introduction as Gainesville’s special advisor for juvenile justice and community support programs.

Scott thanked the city leaders for their confidence and said they would not be sorry. He urged the community to work together to solve problems ahead and highlighted youth gun violence, pointing to recent shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo. 

Jones also homed in on public safety with his new role. 

“This is a new direction that we will go in that will make this community better for our youth and young adults and our community as a whole,” Jones said. “This is a great community, and working together, we can make it greater.” 

Jones served as chief of police for the last 12 years, and Interim City Manager Cynthia Curry said he’ll always have the chief title. Scott has been with GPD for 32 years along with five at the Tallahassee Police Department.  

The event was held at the Santa Fe College Blount Center.  

Editor’s note: This story had a quote updated.

Audience members applaud and begin to rise in honor of Chief Lonnie Scott.
Photo by Seth Johnson Audience members applaud and begin to rise in honor of Gainesville Police Chief Lonnie Scott.
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MaggieMay

Congratulations on your new challenge, and good luck Chief Scott!

Milford Griner

The woman taking part in the pinning ceremony is Chief Scott’s daughter, not his wife, who died two years ago.

C.J. Gish

Thank you. We will update the story and photo caption.