After nearly a year at the helm, Philadelphia Police Chief Bill Cox is leaving to become the head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Olive Branch Police Department.

A 10-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police force, Cox said he is returning to investigations, calling it his longtime passion.

He resigned as police chief last week at a meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

He will hold the rank of major in Olive Branch.

Olive Branch Police Chief Don Gammage offered Cox the job during the recent police chief's convention earlier this year.

"I wasn't looking or hunting for a job," Cox said. "It was out of the blue."

After the conference, Cox said he thought and prayed a lot before deciding to accept the position.

Cox announced his decision to Mayor James Young and the members of his department on Monday, Aug. 12. He turned in a letter of resignation to the city board the next day.

"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity given to me by the City of Philadelphia and have been very proud of the effort made by the men and women of this police department to provide the best level of service available to the citizens of this city," Cox said in his letter of resignation.

"The officers employed by this department have willingly placed their lives on the line for this city and it has been my great pleasure and honor to have served with them all. This city has every right to be proud of its department for they have proven themselves as men and women of courage and resolve."

The Mayor was supportive, Cox said.

"He expressed disappointment to see me leave but he understood," he said.

"I've been blessed to have worked with some great people here. It's been a rewarding time and I've enjoyed it."

Aug. 30 is his last day on the police force. He starts in Olive Branch two weeks later.

His family, however, will remain in Philadelphia until his oldest child, Carrigan, 17, graduates from Leake Academy and is ready for college.

Then his wife, Britta, and their three other children: Loralee, 15, Connor 11, and Sam, 8, will move to Olive Branch.

Cox already has a history with Olive Branch PD, working there for three years. He was a corporal when he left.

Cox, who is a Neshoba County native, and his family moved to Philadelphia 10 years ago.

"It will be an adjustment to go back and supervise the same amount of people there," he said.

The Criminal Investigation Division includes criminal investigators and school resource officers and even some support personnel.

"It's everything that doesn't involve uniformed officers, "he said. "I'll functionally be the third top man in the department."

Olive Branch has 77 sworn officers who answered 20,000 calls last year.

Cox reflected back on his time as a Philadelphia police officer.

"In 10 years I feel like I made an impact and helped citizens," he said. "I'm proud of that."

Cox has spent the last 10 months as Chief of Police.

"I feel that I've laid the groundwork," he said of his time as chief. "My goal was to create a professional atmosphere and to make this the standard to a department our size. I felt I have done that.

"My goal was to lead from the front. I don't expect anyone to do anything I wouldn't do. I wanted to set an example and I feel I've done this."

This goal, he said, will go with him to Olive Branch.

With 13 years of service spanning two departments and a variety of positions, Cox said his most satisfying times were in investigation and being a detective.

"That was my career goal, to be a detective," he said. "I never thought about being chief."

Cox said the chief "opportunity" simply came his way.

"But I'm going back into what I loved about police work," he said. "It's something I missed doing while as chief. As a rookie, fresh out of the academy, my goal was to be a detective."

Despite that, Cox said he would miss the men and women he has worked with on the police force here.

"This department is staffed by knowledgeable and capable officers who should get recognized for their work," he said. "I'm proud to have served with them and Philadelphia should be proud of this department. No department is perfect but for the size we have they're well trained and staffed and good at what they do."