LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Prayers and condolences flood Tyrone Stewart’s, Laurel Police Department’s police chief, Facebook page. Just before 3 a.m., the City of Laurel announced the chief’s passing on Facebook sending shockwaves through the community.
On Sunday night, the family alerted the city that Stewart was in critical condition in the ICU and asked for prayers along with privacy. The city shared the family’s announcement on their Facebook page, which garnered hundreds of comments and shares.
Stewart was appointed police chief in 2011. He replaced police chief Walter Martin who retired after being with the department since 1978. It was a decision that helped the city “financially," WDAM previously reported.
At the time of his appointment, Stewart had 18 years of experience in law enforcement. He started his career as a jailer at the Jones County Sheriff’s Department. His journey to police chief began with the job of patrolman at the Laurel Police Department where he was eventually promoted to deputy chief. Stewart entered the position with civil service protection, a first in the department’s history.
“Anytime when you have a change of guard there is going to be some uncertainty in people’s mind," said Stewart during his swearing-in ceremony. “I want the whole police department to know for the newest person that is hired to the person that has been there the longest, we are all one big family. I cannot do this job by myself. I am going to have to depend upon them and they are going to have to depend upon me and we are all going to make it through okay.”
In May 2018, Mayor Johnny Magee announced that Stewart would take a leave of absence to deal with a “serious illness.” Deputy Chief Billy Chandler, Capt. Tommy Cox and Capt. Shane Valentine were appointed to oversee the department during his leave.
Statewide law enforcement agencies took to social media to offer their condolences on the passing of Stewart.
Deputy Chief Billy Chandler, Capt. Tommy Cox and Capt. Shane Valentine have been tapped to lead the department after Stewart’s sudden death, Mayor Johnny Magee said in a statement.