After 26 years of law enforcement service to the citizens of Oakdale, Police Chief Lester Jenkins announced his retirement after a presentation on his department’s goals and objectives at the Monday, March 7 Oakdale City Council meeting.
“It’s time for me to step aside,” Jenkins said. “I can’t put into words; it’s been a wonderful opportunity. This town has given me so much.”
Jenkins, 58, whose total police career has been with the Oakdale Police Department, said that after getting hired by Oakdale in 1990, he never again applied for another job outside the city. He worked his way up through the ranks of the department serving as patrol officer, corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant.
When he was approached as the department’s lieutenant to take over the acting chief position after the retirement of former Chief Marty West in January 2012, he told officials he could give the city another four years and was later appointed to the position permanently in July 2012.
“I’ve given that, and plan to give a bit more,” Jenkins said, later stating his last day of service would be July 31. “I still have several months to wrap things up.”
Under Chief Jenkins’ leadership, the department saw the return of its equestrian unit, the K-9 unit and recently the adoption of a new badge which more accurately reflects Oakdale’s unique heritage.
Jenkins, who took control of a department besieged by budget cuts and layoffs, has gradually restored officer staffing, assigned a school resource officer for later this year, expanded the communications center to provide dispatch services for the City of Newman, and acquired grants for extra enforcement of street crimes in neighborhoods.
“It is very apparent to me that Lester enjoys serving the citizens of Oakdale and that the decision to retire was by no means easy for him,” said City Manager Bryan Whitemyer. “Lester has been a great leader for the community, the department, and the organization. Oakdale is a safer and stronger community for his work.”
“We thank Chief Jenkins for his many years of service to the City of Oakdale,” Mayor Pat Paul said. “We’re really going to miss him, but I am truly happy that he and his wife Kathy can enjoy this new chapter in their lives together.”
No information was provided on the city’s move for his replacement, if the city will promote from within, or conduct an outside search for applicants.