Columbus Police Chief’s 50-Year Career Coming to an End

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Chief James G. Jackson
Chief James G. Jackson

Columbus Police Chief James Jackson says he’ll retire next month after 18 and a half years as the city’s top cop. Jackson’s retirement comes with a negotiated settlement between the city and Jackson’s attorneys.

James Jackson has been on the Columbus police force for 50 years. He graduated from the police academy and became a patrol officer in 1958. He made sergeant in 1967, lieutenant in 1971, captain in 1974, then deputy chief in 1977. He says becoming chief in 1990 carried with it tremendous responsibility.

“I enjoyed it,” Jackson says. “It was more than I thought it would be even though I had been a deputy chief for 13 years. But I’ve enjoyed it, so it hasn’t been tough on me.”

But at times there has been controversy. In 1997 Jackson filed a lawsuit against the city charging officials with defamation. The mayor 11 years ago, Greg Lashutka, asked the safety director at that time, Thomas Rice, to investigate Jackson. The matter has been in the courts ever since. Both sides reached an agreement last Friday. Part of the settlement means the Columbus police academy will be renamed.

“The whole issue was about my honor and integrity and they have corrected that now with the offer of naming the academy after me,” Jackson says.

“The high points of his career, Jackson says, include helping women and minorities gain a greater presence on the police force. He says he’s proud of the work he did as a patrol officer, but he says he’s done a lot for the citizens of Columbus and for the officers on the Columbus police force.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the street,” Jackson says. “I had a hard time getting that out of my system, but then when you get into the administrative position you can make some changes and cause things to happen better for officers on the street and for citizens, then you can enjoy that. And I did.”

Jackson says his 50-year legacy with the Columbus police can be summed up in three words:

“As I’ve told others I think it should be “HIT.” That stands for honor, integrity and truth.

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