Columbus Police Chief Leaves Office for Last Time

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It’s the end of an era at Columbus Police headquarters. Chief James Jackson left the job for the last time. WOSU was there as fellow officers honored Jackson’s half century of service.

Columbus Police and Fire Pipe and Drum band played the United States Marine Corps Anthem as Chief James Jackson, a former Marine, exited the elevators with his wife, Mary.

Dozens of officers paid tribute to Jackson with a special good-bye ceremony, that lasted about two minutes, as he left the office for the final time.

Mounted Police and an Honor Guard flanked Jackson’s car that waited outside station headquarters on Marconi Boulevard – the Chief’s son, Jason, was in the driver’s seat.

Jackson’s final exit brought out many members of the division including patrol officer David Wilson who has been with Columbus police for almost 20 years. Wilson said Jackson always took honor, duty and integrity seriously.

“That was something he always stood for on this department. He always stood for his men in that regard and always considered us the finest division of police in the nation. Always said those things and always stood up for us in that regard – that we were public servants it was an honorable job to do and he took it seriously,” Wilson said.

Lieutenant Donald Cade called the observance for Jackson an historical occasion.

“The City of Columbus is really losing one of its great leaders. He was on the forefront of bringing police officers on,” Cade said.

Franklin County Sheriff Jim Karnes came out to honor Jackson. Karnes said Jackson embodied his title as head of the police department.

“The Chief is a chief. Our agencies work well together. And it’s good that the top line gets along with the what’s most important is the people under us get along and have a wonderful working relationship,” Karnes said.

Jackson began his work with Columbus Police as an officer more than 50 years ago and worked his way up through the ranks to become the city’s first African-American chief in 1990. He will take paid leave until March 16 when his retirement will be official.

Jackson is leaving after settling a drawn out defamation suit he filed against the city in 1997. Columbus’s police academy was named in his honor as part of the settlement.