Rochelle Jones in her Girl Scout uniform sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s. These days, she wears a
different uniform; she serves as the Night Chief for the the St. Louis City Police Department. Scroll down to view
a photo of Jones in her current uniform.
The St. Louis City Police Department’s highest ranking female officer, Major Rochelle Jones, kept a small detail from her boss until this spring.
Prior to serving as a guest speaker at a Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s Project Anti-Violence Education (PAVE) rally in May, Jones told Police Chief Sam Dotson she used to be a Girl Scout.
“I’m so grateful the chief invited me to speak at that rally,” she said.
Jones advised the girls in the rally audience not to let anyone bully them, to stand up for themselves or to get an adult to help, if needed. Jones is also a big believer in volunteering and she conveyed that to the girls.
“Once you make it or while you’re making it, reach back to help others on their climb,” said Jones. She also recommends networking with people “who don’t look like you and who don’t do what you do.”
“Major Jones is a fantastic role model for our girls,” said CEO Bonnie Barczykowski. “She demonstrates how the skills girls learn as Girl Scouts continue to serve them as adults. She is someone we hope all of our Girl Scouts would emulate.”
Before joining Girl Scouts, Jones said she was shy and quiet.
“Girl Scouts was my first leadership experience. How great it was - the teamwork, the positive experiences and working with other girls and troop leaders.”
Jones was in Girl Scouts through middle school and she fondly remembers taking Girl Scout field trips by bus to various places in the city during the late 1960s and early 1970s. “In those days, downtown St. Louis was poppin’ with its stores and activities. Because I was a quiet child, I enjoyed all of those adventures.”
Those teamwork skills became useful while barbecuing hamburgers with other Girl Scouts at camp because unlike some children might behave today, Jones and her fellow Girl Scouts didn’t have to bully or argue to get things done. Jones said conflict resolution, cooperation and division of labor all were common practices as Girl Scouts.
Jones recalled seeing police officers on patrol near her home. “I grew up in Walnut Park and most of the police officers I saw were male and white. I rarely saw any male police officers who looked like me and I very rarely saw any female officers.”
By the time she was in high school, she decided she wanted to become a city police officer, to add a female and help the department add diversity. She still remembers when she joined the force, in 1983, as a patrol officer. A change since she joined is the educational requirement to enter law enforcement.
“When I first started 31 years ago, you only had to have a high school diploma to become a police officer,” she said. Starting in 1996, applicants also needed 30 hours of college classes and current applicants who lack college credits have up to two years to attain those 30 hours.
“Now, I tell our new officers the rules of the game have changed and I encourage them to stay in school to at least earn a bachelor’s degree.”
Jones said Girl Scouts helped hone her communications skills. She said in a leadership role such as hers, her ability to communicate has to be excellent, both with her staff and with groups of people inside and outside of the department.
In 2007, she was promoted to command the homicide unit, the first woman and first African American to hold that post. Currently, she is the Night Chief, the top officer in the department during evening hours.
“Our chief has to sleep at some point, so I run the department overnight. I go out to evaluate situations that happen and if circumstances warrant it, I contact him,” she explained.
Dotson also attended the rally, where he told the audience, “I can sleep at night, knowing Major Jones is on duty, taking care of the city’s police needs.”
Besides overseeing the city’s overnight police work, Jones is the support operational commander of multiple divisions – traffic, mounted police, emergency management, marshals, city MetroLink officers and city park rangers.
In addition to her career achievements, Jones said she is proud to be a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and proud that she earned her graduate degree from Webster University.
Major Rochelle Jones today.