STEWART COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – It’s police officer appreciation day across the nation. Ronald Jackson, the Police Chief of Stewart County, shared his story with News 3.
Ronald Jackson is a native of Manchester, Ga. He and his siblings were raised by a single mom until she died at the age of 34 from a massive heart attack. Jackson and his brother went to live with their grandparents and were separated from their sister for 35 years. He says he grew up in the projects of Manchester, Ga. but, he didn’t let that stop him from achieving his goals.
“I’m one of the people that came out of the projects, you can be born anywhere. It’s not where you start from, it’s where you finish,” Jackson said.
Before joining the police force, Jackson found a job working as a trainman at CSX railroad. He worked there for 10 years. Jackson said he enjoyed working as a trainman because he was able to travel a lot. At 33, Jackson realized he wanted to go into law enforcement.
“It was good, it was a lot of traveling. One day I just left the railroad and I got interested in law enforcement. I was walking by the police department in Manchester, Ga., and I decided I’d go in there and fill out an application,” Jackson said.
After putting in an application, Jackson heard from the Manchester Police Department a month later, when they offered him the position. Jackson worked with the MPD for 15 years, starting as a patrolman, then worked his way up to Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Chief and then finally becoming the Chief of police at MPD for 10 years.
Throughout Jackson’s years of being in law enforcement, he has noticed that most people do not like police officers. When he first joined the force, he said friends in his community stopped associating with him. He believes there is a lack of trust between officers and those in the community.
“A lot of people don’t trust us, I don’t know why. It’s just the way the world is, they don’t like cops and it’s getting worse and worse. I think we need to go back to the old days, community policing. where we go into the community and let people start a relationship so people can gain trust,” Jackson said.
Before leaving MPD, Jackson decided to run for Sheriff, which he believes was a horrible idea. He said things from his past were brought to the present during the race, especially the things he did as a child.
“I decided I wanted to run for Sheriff, that was the biggest mistake of my life. They went back and drug things that I did, things that I didn’t do. Some of the things they said I did do but it didn’t have nothing to do with Sheriff. Some of the things I did I was 11 years old and all of that was brought into the picture and I lost the Sheriff race,” Jackson said.
After losing the race for Sheriff in 2000 Jackson decided to leave MPD, but before he left his co-workers gave him a surprise he will never forget: his sister.
“They called me and said Chief, it’s a young lady here who wants to see you. So when I walked downstairs it was my sister. Some older people had found my sister and they knew our background so they brought her to the Manchester Police Department and so that’s where we met each other at,” Jackson said.
Next, Jackson went to work for Pathway in LaGrange, Ga., where he worked with mental health and substance abuse patients. After working there for six years, he decided to come to Lumpkin, Ga., where he re-joined law enforcement.
Chief Jackson feels he has had a successful career since moving up the police ranks, helping those in his community and meeting elected officials such as former President Bill Clinton, and creating memories within the force that he will never forget.
Jackson feels that he has a good relationship with those in the community of Lumpkin, Ga., where he is now the police chief. He feels that if the community ever loses faith in him and his deputies, that’s when trouble will begin.
After speaking with Chief Jackson, News 3 went for a ride along with the him in his patrol car. Jackson gave a tour of Lumpkin, Ga., showing historical sites such as a former slave plantation that has been moved to Columbus, Ga., as well as introducing News 3 reporters to local residents.