Martin Jones, vice chairman of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, died Thursday, according to BOPC staff. Jones had served on the board since July 2020, when Mayor Mike Duggan appointed him to the role. He was 58.
A cause of death has not been determined, but according to a Detroit Police Department spokesperson, it is believed he died of natural causes and there was no foul play. The Highland Park Police Department is handling the case.
At Thursday’s BOPC meeting, several commissioners gave remarks about the work that Jones did during his time on the board and beforehand. The Rev. Jim Holley, BOPC chairman, said in a statement that Jones was a “ferocious advocate” for safe streets and neighborhoods.
“He never wanted anyone to be a victim of a crime, and his work in the community reflected his deep value of getting justice for victims,” Holley said in the statement.
Jones was a born and raised Detroiter and graduated from Denby High School on the city’s east side in 1981. He also was a spokesperson and leader for Detroit 300, a community coalition of residents, businesses and organizers that banned together to help police stop crime throughout the city.
Commissioner and former Chairman Willie Bell said Jones will be missed deeply by the board, its staff and the police department.
“He went door to door advocating on behalf of victims and trying to solicit support for witnesses,” Bell said at the start of Thursday’s meeting.
According to BOPC staff, Jones received several awards for his community activism, long before he was appointed to the board. In 1999, D.A.R.E. recognized him for saving a 9-year-old during an attack by a pit bull. In 2018, the City Council honored him with a Spirit of Detroit Aaward for assisting in finding a 16-year-old and returning him home safely.
Detroit Police Chief James White called Jones’ passing a “deep, deep sadness.”
“This is a deep loss for our community and for our city,” White said at the meeting. “He was a champion of what’s right and certainly a community advocate, and so we mourn with you.”
Jones took some criticism from the public during BOPC meetings in the past six months, but Commissioner Willie Burton said Jones really cared for the city, despite what some have said.
“Jones was someone who really did care for the Detroit Police Department in a way not many others do,” Burton told BridgeDetroit. “Public safety was one of the most important things to him.”
Commissioner Linda Bernard, who represents District 2, said she is serving with “great sadness” right now.
“You see, our former commissioner (Jones) lived in my district just a block away,” Bernard said in the meeting.