Members of the Oakdale City Council were scheduled to name Oakdale Police Department Lt. Lester Jenkins as the interim police chief at the Tuesday, Jan. 17 meeting.
Current police chief Marty West is set to retire the first week of February, having served five years at the helm of the local department and 35 years in law enforcement.
Jenkins, a long-time Oakdalean and familiar face at many community events, was the front-runner for the interim position.
According to interim city manager Greg Wellman, the choice to appoint an interim, rather than conduct a candidate search, will ultimately save the city money.
Mayor Pat Paul was thrilled with the choice in Jenkins, saying, “I’m really pleased we’re hiring from within. He’s very involved, very tuned in to what we are and who we are in Oakdale. He’s a good match.”
Paul also said Jenkins is a good example of how hard work within a small department can lead to bigger rewards.
“It sends a good message to the other officers that hard work can be rewarded,” Paul said.
Jenkins is a familiar face within the community, something Paul noted as well.
“He always goes that extra step. Even when he’s out of uniform, he’s out there in the community volunteering and being involved. He has a long-time proven record and he’s an overall decent person. The officers know and respect him and now he gets to prove himself as a leader.”
Although the appointment is temporary, Paul said it was a good test run for Jenkins to see how well he handles the new responsibilities.