Chief James G. Jackson
James G. Jackson served three years in the United States Marine Corps before being honorably discharged. In March of 1958, he entered the Columbus Division of Police as a patrolman assigned to foot patrol and cruiser duty. Following his promotion to Sergeant in March of 1967, he worked in Patrol and Vice. He was promoted to Lieutenant in February of 1971, serving in Patrol and Community Relations where he was allowed to start the first Minority Recruiting Unit. In July of 1974, he was promoted to Captain and placed in charge of “B” Company Patrol.
In June of 1977, Jackson was promoted to Deputy Chief. He was in charge of the Investigative Subdivision for six years, the Patrol Subdivision for one year, and the Special Operations Subdivision for six years until his appointment as Chief. As Chief Jackson ascended the ranks, he achieved the distinction of being the only person in the Columbus Division of Police to place first on three written promotional examinations (Sergeant, Captain and Deputy Chief). He was the first choice of the Public Safety Director and a five-member selection committee that evaluated all four deputy chiefs for the position of Chief of Police.
Chief Jackson was promoted to the position of Chief of Police on June 15, 1990, and has the distinction of being the only Civil Service Chief of Police of a city with a population of 500,000 or more in the United States. Chief Jackson has been the longest serving chief in the Division’s history, which will never be matched due to a change in the City’s charter, and is the longest serving chief in the history of Major City Chiefs organization in the U.S. and Canada.
Chief Jackson has also been an active proponent of equal opportunities for all. In federal court cases in 1973, 1975 and 1984, he testified at his own peril about discrimination in hiring, assignments and promotions within the Columbus Division of Police. His testimony weighed heavily in the three separate trials that brought about federal court findings from which over 75% of the black and female sworn personnel at the time had benefited by either being hired, promoted, assigned, given financial compensation or some combination thereof.
In 1996, the Columbus Division of Police became the focus of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, in which false allegations were made accusing officers of a pattern and practice of violating citizens Constitutional Rights. Confident in its innocence, the Columbus Division of Police is the only police agency in the nation to stand-up to fight the DOJ allegations, and prevail.
“Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly…” Chief James G. Jackson reminded Division personnel of this at almost every ceremony and promotion during his tenure. March 16, 2009 marked Chief Jackson’s last day with the Division, after a 51-year career. He was recognized for his service to the City and the Division by the dedication and renaming of the Division’s training academy to the James G. Jackson Columbus Police Academy.
During his 19 years as Chief, James Jackson changed the make-up of the Division. 37 recruit classes have gone through the training academy. Of the 1,558 officers currently on the Division (as of 2018), 1,186 came on after he became Chief. The supervisory ranks have changed as well. In 1995, Chief Jackson promoted the first female to the rank of commander, and the majority of the current supervisors were promoted, including all 5 of the deputy chiefs, 16 of the 18 commanders, 52 of the 56 lieutenants, and 204 of the 228 sergeants.
During Chief Jackson’s tenure, the Columbus Division of Police was voted the “Best Dressed” Police Department in the nation, is one of few large agencies in the U.S. or Canada to be accredited, and is one of only a few departments in the world with an accredited crime lab. The Division was involved in the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) re-accreditation process and was awarded four accreditations, proving that the Division and its personnel are committed to following the best practices and policies found in the law enforcement community. Chief Jackson supplied each officer with a CALEA nametag and a whistle engraved with the Division’s patch. He never wavered in his policy that officers shall wear their hats while outside or working special duty. The hat is the only part of the uniform that is easily recognizable to the public to identify officers from any direction or from a 360 degree viewpoint, and he would hold officers accountable when they violated that policy.
In July 2005, Chief Jackson received the Lloyd Sealey Award for outstanding service or accomplishments in the field of criminal justice from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. In 2012, he was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame for making significant contributions in support of civil rights and cultural awareness.
He has attended Harvard University, Ohio State University, Northwestern University, the FBI Academy, and has taken management courses offered by the Secret Service and other management organizations.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Chief James G. Jackson continues to maintain his residence within the city he is sworn to protect. He is married to his wife, Mary, and has two sons, James and Jason, a daughter, Michelle, nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.