Cpt. Fred Jackson of the Baltimore Sheriff’s Department recently retired after over 28 years of service. (Courtesy photo)
After over 28 years of service to the Baltimore sheriff’s department, Capt. Fred Jackson retired. Throughout his law enforcement career, he emphasized respect of the citizenry. His greatest achievements, he says, are his five children and his 37-year relationship with his wife, Janine Jackson. They will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary next year.
Jackson’s first foray into law enforcement did not exactly presage a long career in the arena.
“I was a bounty hunter for quite a few years. I hated it,” said Jackson during a phone interview with the AFRO. “I absolutely hated it. It was the worst thing I think I ever did in my life.”
Jackson, who as a bounty hunter didn’t want to carry a gun, eventually found himself at the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Department after working a number of other jobs, including a stint as a corrections officer.
“When I became a sheriff, the job became interesting, and I decided to stick with it,” said Jackson, who served as a courtroom deputy for his first year in the department. He then became a district deputy for service of process.
“Everything from divorce papers, to garnishments, housing papers, all the things that the sheriff’s office serves,” said Jackson of his duties at this time.
Jackson transferred to the warrant squad, at the time just a handful of deputies, “running up and down the street, catching people like crazy,” said Jackson.
Jackson retired as chief of internal affairs. He said that throughout his career, he always strove for advancement. “It’s just like any other job that I ever had, I kept looking at the next guy up, I wanted to have his job. Whatever I was doing, I wanted to be the next guy up.”
Jackson used his off-duty time to learn about how the sheriff’s department works, including coming in at night to learn the computer systems. So, when new opportunities arose, he was in the best position to be promoted.
As a deputy and an officer, Jackson stressed respect, emphasizing that citizens were to be viewed as people first. Jackson considers it central to the mission of law enforcement for officers to see themselves as helpers, first and foremost.
“I felt obligated to teach that to because I grew up here in the city, and I could not stand it when the police would come over like they were overseers and not helpers.”
Though he led a distinguished career in the sheriff’s department, Jackson never defined himself as being an officer of the law. “I always told people that, as far as being a sheriff, it wasn’t what I am it’s just what I do. Because what I really am is a parent, and somebody’s husband. My home life was more important to me than the job was,” said Jackson.