James A. Jones

The Baltimore Sun

James A. Jones, a retired Maryland State Police lieutenant colonel who was an early advocate of alcohol and drug testing to reduce highway accidents, died of an embolism Dec. 19 at his Perry Hall home. He was 78.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Overlea, he was a 1948 Calvert Hall College High School graduate. He joined the Navy and became an aviation electrician aboard an aircraft carrier. Among other decorations, he received the Korean Service Medal with two battle stars.

He joined the Maryland State Police in 1957 and was stationed at Waldorf, Upper Marlboro, Bel Air and Golden Ring, before moving on to the state police headquarters in Pikesville.

In 1964, he became an instructor at the Police Academy and then at Pikesville, and two years later was appointed the director of the Maryland State Chemical Testing Unit. He often appeared before General Assembly committees and testified on behalf of alcohol testing.

"In the days when troopers often relied on their sense of smell to detect alcohol on a driver, he brought in the concept of the Breathalyzer," said Johnny L. Hughes, a former state police major who is the U.S. marshal for Maryland. "He was an innovative commander who was ahead of his time."

Mr. Jones became commander of the police agency's personnel management division, and in a reorganization, he was named chief of the Maryland State Police Services Bureau in 1986. In this capacity he oversaw training programs, legislative affairs at Annapolis, auto inspections and matters related to police technology. He was also responsible for recruitment at his agency and represented it at grievance disputes and hearings held under the state's Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights.

Before retiring in 1990 as a lieutenant colonel, Mr. Jones was his agency's Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.

He then became a court security officer at the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. Jones, who was of Welsh descent, was a member of numerous Irish-heritage organizations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 3.

"He considered himself to be Irish because he married an Irish woman," said his daughter, Theresa Jones Alcarese of Kingsville. "He loved the Irish heritage and often spoke on the old Irish Hour program on WLIF."

He served on Baltimore's St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee and was its 1993 grand marshal. He also served on the committee for the annual Irish Festival.

"He was a very reasonable man and could make committee meetings fun," said Sally Murphy, a former chair of the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade. "He was always amenable to listen to ideas."

Mr. Jones was also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police of the North Atlantic Region. He was also a past vice president of the Federation of Police, Security and Correction Officers Union and was co-director of the International Union for Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America.

He was a trustee of the Maryland State Retirement Systems and belonged to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, Maryland Troopers Association, National Troopers Coalition and the Knights of Columbus.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. today at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 8420 Belair Road, where he was a member.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 48 years, the former Patricia McKeown; two sons, James M. Jones of Fallston and Timothy Jones of Baldwin; a sister, Barbara Hubbell of Middle River; and six grandchildren.

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