Jennings is Jonesville police chief

Derik Vanderford|The Union Daily Times Carl Harris Jennings, Jr. is the new Chief of Police for the Town of Jonesville.

JONESVILLE — Carl Jennings is the new Chief of Police for the Town of Jonesville.

On Tuesday, July 7, Carl Jennings was promoted to Jonesville Police Chief after a unanimous vote by the Jonesville Town Council.

“I sat there and was saying ‘Wow!’ the whole time,” Jennings said joyfully after receiving the news of his promotion.

Jennings thanked council members for their decision, and he vowed to do them justice. At the meeting, Mayor Ernest Moore called Jennings “firm but fair,” and townspeople said Jennings was “straight across,” meaning he treats everyone the same. Moore said those were good attributes for running the police department.

Jennings said the thought of police work first crossed his mind when he was a member of the National Guard in Union and his motor sergeant, Marshall Adams — a local officer — asked him about it. Jennings said he was always open to advice from Adams.

“He talked to me about it, but at the time I wasn’t ready for it,” Jennings said.

While working for Charter Communications in 2008, Jennings said he realized he never wanted to work inside again.

“I wanted to be on the road,” he said. “A combination of that and the advice from Marshall Adams influenced me to become an officer.”

Jennings began his career in police work in November 2008 when he became a detention officer at the Cherokee County Detention Center, eventually working as a transport officer there. After nine weeks at the Criminal Justice Academy in July 2010, Jennings became a patrolman with the City of Gaffney Police Department. Jennings said his strong points at the beginning of his career were traffic enforcement, and he became a certified TSO (Traffic Safety Officer).

In 2014, former Jonesville Police Chief Jimmy Kimbrell talked with Jennings about joining the Jonesville Police Department, and Jennings began patrolling on the road in Jonesville that February. Jennings worked with Kimbrell four months before Kimbrell was injured. Jennings said thanks to Kimbrell’s tutelege, he was able to help sustain the department with one other officer on a different shift. From Jan. 9-March 25 of this year, Jennings was the only person working with the department.

Jennings said he is honored to be the first African-American police chief with the Jonesville department.

“I feel like it’s a big deal because of a lot of what’s going on in South Carolina right now,” Jennings said. “With diligence, you can make something of yourself.”

Jennings mentioned several plans for the future of the department, which currently consists of three full-time officers (Jonesville is currently hiring for one full-time officer); one part-time officer; and one reserve officer. Jennings said he would like to add manpower to the department by implementing a reserve program.

Jennings also said he would like to see more community policing — being able to get out and talk with people, other than while answering routine calls of service.

Jennings said he wants to work closely with Union County and strengthen the department’s relationship with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

“I want to grow with the Town of Jonesville,” Jennings said.

Jennings plans to better outfit the department’s personnel with what they need to do their jobs. He said all emergency vehicles will have fire extinguishers and first aid kits.

“I would like to see more programs for kids — such as DARE — to let kids know police are here to help and not be scared to call 911 if they need us,” Jennings said. “I want them to have better knowledge of what police do instead of what they might see in the media. I would like everybody to see what police really do, actually.”

Jennings said he wants everyone to know they can call 911 to contact the department rather than going out to look for officers when they need them.

“We want the community to utilize 911 so officers don’t miss pertinent information,” Jennings said. “We want to be sure the information is logged in instead of officers receiving information on the fly. We need to document everything for the record.”

Jennings said he is appreciative of the opportunity the Town of Jonesville has given him.

“I’m thankful for Chief Jimmy Kimbrell, the Town of Jonesville and the people for allowing me to step into this role as police chief,” he said. “My door is always open; I’ll talk with anybody.”