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Jackson Under Fire - The Chief on the Clock

By Keli McAlister
By kmcalister@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - Gill Kendrick took the oath of office, becoming the police chief of the City of Jackson on November 16, 2009. After almost three years in office as Jackson's number one police officer, a small, random polling of the citizens of the city was conducted by 7 Eyewitness News. Despite crime being a common topic of conversation, of the 20 Jacksonian asked, none knew Chief Kendrick's name or face. "That's interesting," he said. "Yeah, it bothers me. I'd like for everyone to know who their chief is."

The reason why more people do not know who the chief is could be based on the amount of time he does or does not spend in town. Kendrick still calls Brownsville home. "The issue is I can't sell my home in Brownsville," he explained. "I've told the mayor and the mayor says he understands."

Mayor Jerry Gist echoed those words saying he would probably do the same thing in the same situation. "He's 30 minutes from the police department," Gist said. "I live in north Jackson and it takes me 25 minutes on a good day to get to City Hall."

Kendrick says as soon as he sells his home in Brownsville, he and his wife will move into the house they purchased soon after his hiring in Three Way. It currently sits empty.

However, it is not just his time off the clock that takes him out of Jackson. In our search of his travel expense reports, we found, in 2011, Chief Kendrick was reimbursed for things like hotels, food and airfare for 28 full or partial travel days while on the clock. That equals five and a half weeks of work days. "I would say most of them had to do with the Tennessee Associations of Chiefs of Police in Nashville," he recalled.

In fact, six of his nine trips, in which he submitted expense reports, were for meetings of the TACP, an organization where he served as president in the past. "I intend to continue my relationship with the Tennessee Associations of Chiefs of Police," Kendrick said. "I feel it's imperative because as chief I need to be trained in the area of my responsibility."

Chief Kendrick is quick to defend his 28 days of paid work days he spends away from the city. "I don't think it's extravagant," he said. "I think it's important and would just ask you trust the fact that it's not a vacation."

Kendrick maintains attending TACP meetings provides him with the necessary 40 hours of training every commissioned officer is required to complete every year. Outside of state requirements of weapons and domestic violence training, there are no departmental guidelines of what type of training officers must receive. Most Jackson officers participate in in-house training.

Though technically Chief Kendrick could complete his training with his officers, he says the classes offered locally do not meet the level of training he needs. When asked if he believed it was worth the time away from the department, he answered, "Yes, it is."

Kendrick maintains what he gets while at these two-day to week-long conferences is more than just training. He believes the face-to-face conversations with other department leaders about crime fighting in their area is invaluable. Though Mayor Gist agrees, he says he urges all of his employees to use caution in how many days they're away.

Overall, Mayor Gist believes the city benefits from Chief Kendrick's association with the TACP. "It casts an image of our city to the membership that a good person with leadership characteristics comes from Jackson," he explained. "It can only benefit the city and that's why I've encouraged it over the years."

We wanted to know the exact benefits the citizens of Jackson have received from Chief Kendrick's association with the TACP. Hear his answers as "Jackson Under Fire" continues on 7 Eyewitness News at 10.