Former police chief dies

Published 10:40 pm Friday, June 7, 2019

A former chief of the Suffolk Police Department died in Durham, N.C., on May 30.

Jimmy Wilson passed away at the age of 73, according to his obituary.

He was chief in Suffolk from 1997 to 2002, according to a timeline of chiefs of police on the Suffolk Police Department website. His biography on the website notes that the department expanded its community service activities, started its first citizens’ academy and increased its bicycle patrol under Wilson’s leadership.

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Wilson had a 39-year career in law enforcement, but he was more than his resume, said daughter Sharen Wilson McGlothen.

“He coached basketball at the YMCA, he ran the 5Ks, he played baseball, he enjoyed fishing and boating,” his daughter said. “He was a loving family man, a dedicated church member and a loyal friend, and he mentored young men and young women.”

Wilson initially wanted to be an accountant, his daughter said. But after graduating high school in 1964, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and he spent four years working in security and foreign communications intelligence.

Having had that experience, he jumped at a chance to join the Washington, D.C., police department.

“He really enjoyed it, so he stayed in that career field,” she said.

According to his obituary, Wilson rose through the ranks in the sixth precinct in Washington and was instrumental in reorganizing the department’s homicide investigation unit. He was part of the investigation into the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, his obituary states.

Wilson would go on to be deputy chief of police in the nation’s capital. He was also police chief in Jackson, Miss., and Canton, Miss., before coming to Suffolk. During his career, he also found time to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science in Education.

After his retirement from Suffolk, Wilson worked as an antiterrorist contractor, going overseas to many dangerous places.

Through it all, he was a dad most of all, McGlothen said.

“Growing up, he took me on summer vacations,” she said. “We went to Disney World, Luray Caverns … even more recently as an adult, we continued our father-daughter trips.” The pair had gone to Hawaii, Las Vegas, England and France among other things.

“He also really adored his grandchildren,” said McGlothen, who has two daughters. “Every Christmas, he would make sure they had a fairytale Christmas. He made sure they got everything on that list.”

During his career, Wilson was heavily involved in NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. He was a past national president and was a charter member of the Hampton Roads chapter.

“He became a wealth of knowledge in terms of helping us pull our chapter together and get members,” said Dr. Joseph Johnson, current president of the Hampton Roads chapter. “He’s been a mentor and a big friend of mine for a number of years. Jimmy loved to fish. A lot of the mentoring I got came during fishing times. I took those as mentoring opportunities that encouraged me to go back to school, which I did.”

City Attorney Helivi Holland, who was a prosecutor in the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office while Wilson was chief, said he helped her in her prosecutorial role. The office had just received a grant to build a domestic violence program, and Wilson supported the initiative and assigned an officer to the group.

“He was a leader among leaders,” Holland said. “He was a go-to for many chiefs to come talk to.”

Officer Junius Jackson, who was on the police department when Wilson was appointed chief, recalled first meeting him in the old City Council chambers.

“I enjoyed working under his command,” Jackson said. “He was a great leader. He will always be remembered by me. It is something I will carry on.”

In addition to his daughter and granddaughters, Wilson is survived by three brothers and a host of other family and friends. A funeral took place on Wednesday in Durham.