At any time of the day or night, while walking through the City of Gonzales Police Department, one can hear the friendly police staff greeting one another. The men and women of the GPD work as a team and enjoy the day to day pleasantries that come with being part of that team. One greeting; however, is different than everyone else’s and more respected. “Good to see you, Chief,” is reserved for City of Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson.
Jackson says being called Chief by his colleagues is one of his greatest honors. “Sometimes I still can’t believe it when I hear it,” says Jackson. He says being chief is about having and earning respect. “Respect is never simply given,” says Jackson. “It’s earned, and I’m honored to have earned it from my fellow men and women in blue.”
Long before Jackson was elected chief and won the admiration of the citizens of Gonzales, he was just like any other child with a goal, trying to find ways to accomplish that goal. Jackson is a native of Ascension Parish and a proud citizen of Gonzales, LA. Upon graduating from East Ascension High School in 1988, Jackson entered the United States Military and served five years in the Army. All the while, Jackson knew when he completed his time that law enforcement was where he’d end up.
“Public safety is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” says Jackson. Jackson believes that his career chose him, rather than him choosing this path. He believes every good officer has a desire to help others and officers that lack that desire will not last.
“You have to have it in your heart to want to help people and to keep people safe. I think this profession chooses you. It’s a calling. When you find that, you hold onto it, and it assists you with becoming successful,” states Jackson.
Jackson quickly picked up the proper techniques of becoming an efficient and an effective police officer. While serving 14 years, Jackson experienced both good times and bad times as an officer. Jackson chuckles as he recalls a “sloppy muddy” foot chase along with his fellow officers and remembers that being one of the only times they had fun while trying to catch a criminal. On the other hand, he also remembers a more serious moment where he had to make the decision to either take a life or have his life taken.
Jackson says, “That can happen any day of the week and it’s just something we deal with as officers.”
With the experiences and situations he had dealt with, Jackson felt he was more than capable of taking on the position of Chief of Police. At one point in his career, Jackson said he knew he could be the next Chief and enforce some of his new ideas. But to Jackson, being called Chief is more than just having a title.
“Knowing the trials and tribulations that you go through is one thing, and having the education to become Chief of Police is another. It’s very challenging, but it’s something I love to do, and I don’t regret one minute of it.”
Jackson becomes animated and excited when he gets to implement new ideas, and is appreciative of his team’s commitment for bringing the City of Gonzales Police Department to new heights. His main goals for the department seem to all revolve around proper communication with the public.
“I think I’m closing the communication gap between the citizens and the police department,” he says. A lot of people have a bad taste in their mouths because we do things that cost money such as citations. But the other part we’re doing is keeping the community safe, keeping drugs out, and keeping violence out. That’s why I open communication and remain approachable to both situations with and the people throughout the City of Gonzales.”
Not only does Jackson feel the need to stay connected with the adult citizens of Gonzales, but the youth are very near to his heart. He wants the youth to set goals from themselves and realize that they can do anything as long as they put their minds to accomplishing those goals. Jackson doesn’t want today’s youth to experience the pain he felt when he lost his best friend to violence. He wants the youth to feel comfortable to go to officers if they feel like something is wrong.
In order to make policemen more approachable, Jackson placed officers in all schools. They greet the kids in the morning and spend time with them during their lunch breaks.
“I find that the kids are very receptive and know we’re there to be friends, or if you do things to break the law you’re going to be arrested and there will be consequences,” says Jackson.
The Gonzales Police Department also has a mentoring program. Currently, there are two officers that mentor children throughout the city who are having problems.
Jackson says, “We intervene and give them a mentor so they’ll have a positive role model. It also affords them something to strive towards in terms of leading a solid life in becoming a productive citizen.
Besides mentoring, the youth can also be involved in the Junior Police program. This is for children 8-14 years old and allows them to build a relationship with the officers and helps them to learn the role of the Gonzales Police Department.
Lastly, there’s the Explorer Post for anyone aged 15-21. This program is more serious and more involved. These young adults attend an extended camp where they learn through hands-on experience what is needed to prepared them if they do decide to go into law enforcement. Jackson wants to make sure the youth knows that they must learn themselves and take responsibility for their actions because there are consequences for every bad decision.
On a more personal note, Jackson would like to thank the citizens of Gonzales for their continued support. He says that there’s nothing like the southern hospitality that everyone has here.
“I’ve travelled all over the world and when it comes down to Louisiana and Gonzales, people will speak to you and help you if they can. I think it’s a special thing for people in Louisiana.”
Jackson would also like to thank and acknowledge his loving and supportive wife Leslie York Jackson and their two sons Devin and Xander. He says in their free time they all love watching and going to football games. Besides spending time with his family, Jackson also enjoys fishing, hunting and riding horses. He describes himself as a very balanced individual because he knows there’s more than one side to every story and that he must treat everyone equally and fairly.