Jenkins Logan knew one thing when he was 23, he definitely wasn’t going to be the first black policeman in his small Alabama town. That was in 1969.
On May 30th, 75 miles south of Montgomery, Alabama, where Rosa Parks took her seat to take her stand, Jenkins Logan celebrated 50 years with his local police department.
Yes, Captain Logan is still working a job he never wanted, and his presence is nothing like what you’d expect for a commanding officer—he speaks softly and slowly. Jesus is his Captain.
“Do you know who wrote the first five books of the Bible?” he quietly asked me years ago.
I laughed. From his tone, I could tell Captain Logan knew the answer but wasn’t sure that I did. Maybe I was bluffing.
“Moses,” I said.
“How’d you know!”
When the captain had first learned that Moses had written those five books, he’d found it surprising because it was so much Scripture.
“Seminary,” I said with a grin. “That’s my edge.”
Logan, as everyone calls him, also has an edge—he met God at age four or five.
“One night there was a lightning storm,” he said. “I asked Daddy how to make it stop.”
“Pray to God,” his father had said.
“How do you do that, Daddy?”
“Just talk to Him.”
“I did that,” Logan said to me, “and the storm stopped immediately.” Logan’s eyes shined. “Not something you forget!”
God kept revealing Himself until Logan realized God had a purpose for him.
His police chief said, “Logan is extraordinary. He’s easy to talk to, and he listens carefully.”
Logan uses those gifts to help others.
“Take domestics,” the captain said to me. “Couples arguing and fighting. They have kids and need to know that when they break the family they break the child.”
But it’s dangerous work. Some time ago, after several officers were killed during traffic stops, I studied Logan with a heavy heart.
“When will they get you?” I asked him.
He smiled. “Not me.”
Logan is gentle, but he means business with felony stops. With his hand on his gun and his door open and protecting him from potential gunfire, he climbs from his cruiser. Logan then instructs the driver to step out and away from his vehicle with his hands up.
“I make sure he knows any false move could be deadly,” he said. “I tell him to turn around and step backwards toward me. When I get him where I want him, I tell him to get on his knees and then to lie face down. That’s when I cuff him.”
It’s smart, and it made me happy. Had he learned that at the police academy?
“There wasn’t formal training back then,” he said.
Remember, he was hired in 1969. Logan could have retired twice, but he’s not quitting.
“People retire and regret it,” he said.
How did he end up in a job he didn’t want?
Logan had been the one to suggest the need for a black officer after witnessing city police mistreating a black man.
“They asked me to do it,” Logan explained, “and I said, ‘No! No! No!'”
But the mayor insisted on a candidate with a clean record. Logan had joined the U.S. Army out of high school and had been stationed in Hawaii, Okinawa, and Thailand without incident.
“Daddy took us to church,” he said.
In fact, that church still stands on Church Street in his small Alabama town.
One retired lawyer remembers that Logan may have been the first black officer in Covington county.
Why did Logan change his mind?
“I didn’t. They pressured me,” he said. “I finally agreed, but only until they found someone else.”
Fifty years later, Logan can safely say that God was in it.
He’ll tell you of Moses and David. “They didn’t want any part of God’s plan either.”
That’s true. God appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush, and Moses said, “Who am I?” David was anointed King of Israel long before he seized his destiny. (Exodus 3:1-11; 1 Samuel 16-2 Samuel 5:3)
“You have to stay with God,” the captain said. “That’s your power.”
Now and then in a quiet place, Logan will pull his cruiser over, open the door, and get down on one knee.
Jesus is Captain Logan’s Captain.
Copyright (c) 2019 R.A. Mathews all rights reserved. The Rev. R.A. Mathews is an attorney, faith columnist, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Write to her at [email protected]