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Jonesboro names new police chief

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

The City of Jonesboro has a new police chief, after the city council voted unanimously, Thursday, to remove the designation, "interim," from Interim Police Chief Tim Jessup's title.

Jessup, a former major, was named interim chief several months ago, following the controversial firing of then-Police Chief Brad Johnson.

Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox fired Johnson in May, stating that Johnson had not successfully completed a probationary period. The mayor had earlier suspended Johnson for wearing blue jeans on the job, and for what Maddox called disrespect of the office of mayor.

Major Jessup was sworn in as police chief Thursday afternoon. "I'm grateful for the opportunity and the confidence the mayor and council have put in me, and I'm going to just do the best job I can do," said Jessup.

"Major Jessup has been acting chief, and we figured he equipped himself well in the last six months, under difficult circumstances," said Maddox. "We all thought that he deserved a chance. That's why he got the job."

Maddox said Lt. Wayne Woods and Sgt. Charles Kimble, both with the Jonesboro Police Department, were also considered for the job.

"We had the resumes. We went through them, and all three candidates were highly qualified," said Maddox. "We couldn't go wrong with either one of them," he added.

Jessup, 43, said he has worked with the Jonesboro Police Department for almost five years. He started as a patrolman in April of 2005, was promoted to detective in December of that year, and was promoted to the rank of major in January 2009, according to Jessup.

As Chief of Police, Jessup said, he's committed to moving the department forward. "I'm excited. Not a lot is going to change. I think the police department's moving in the right direction, and we're just going to continue moving toward making it better," he said.

He said he plans to keep crime down by "utilizing manpower in the most effective way that I can, and keeping as many officers on each shift that I can."

He is in the process, he said, of implementing a new policy manual for the police department. "It just needs to be more thorough," he said. "The old policy manual didn't cover everything that it needed to cover, and this [current policy manual] is one that was compiled by the Georgia Chief's Association, and I'm just modifying it to fit our agency."

Jessup said one example of the modification of the manual is that it will be more specific in explaining proper use of force, such as "when to pursue, and when not to pursue a suspect -- and when to disengage," he said.

The new police chief said the policy manual will also explain the dress code in more detail. "It's just more direction on what is expected. You need to look professional. I expect creases in their sleeves," he said.

Jessup said he has no plans to wear blue jeans while on duty.

A native of Union City, Ind., Jessup said he relocated to Georgia in 1989, settling in Hinesville.

He said one reason he chose to pursue a career in law enforcement was because of the influence of friends. "I had a couple of friends that were police officers in the Hinesville area. We played softball together, and I inquired about it. The law-enforcement thing, it gets in your blood," he said.

"In 1996, I went to work for the Georgia Department of Corrections, at the Georgia State Prison in Reedsville, as a corrections officer," he said.

In 1999, he moved to the Riverdale area and spent two different stints -- totaling 3 1/2 years -- working at the Riverdale Police Department, first as a patrolman, and later as a detective.

Jessup and his wife, Candace, live in Hampton, in Henry County, just outside Clayton County. He said he has two children, ages 17 and 14, who live with their mother in Ohio. He also has two stepchildren, ages 24 and 22, who live in South Georgia.