Mayor Jerry Gist speaks about interim police chief

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DOWNTOWN JACKSON — There is a new chief in charge at the Jackson Police Department. Mayor Jerry Gist fired Gill Kendrick on Thursday and named an interim replacement from within the department. After five years of leading the force, Kendrick is replaced by one of his captains, Julian Wiser. Gist said he made the decision not because of any disciplinary issues with Kendrick but due to concern over the state of crime in the city. “We need a new skill set as far as leadership traits in our police department,” Gist said. Gist believes Wiser has those traits. “[He’s] somebody that’s been in the trenches with our gang, youth violence in previous years and Interim Chief Wiser has been in that position,” Gist said. Gist said Kendrick is a man of high character and integrity and had no performance issues. “Chief Kendrick’s done an admirable job for five years, but we just need to go to a more proactive type leadership,” Gist said. When asked “why now?” with the mayoral election, in which Gist is seeking re-election, just more than six months away, Gist responded with “Why not?” “Decisions out of this office will come not looking at the next election but looking at the next generation,” Gist said. Gist said he told Kendrick about his decision Thursday afternoon in what he describes as a cordial meeting. “He seemed OK with it. I’m sure looking forward he’ll turn a new chapter in his life, and I wish him the very best,” Gist said. Gist said once a permanent chief is named, it will be important for him or her to live in Jackson. Kendrick had come under fire for maintaining his home in Brownsville for the first portion of his time as chief. Gist said Kendrick had the opportunity to retire or step down but chose to do neither. According to the Jackson Human Resources Department, it has received no retirement paperwork and Kendrick will not receive any severance pay. Gist said it will depend on various things whether he will hire a permanent chief before the election.

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