Jones to retire as sheriff office’s chief of staff
KEARNEYSVILLE – On Dec. 21, the career Jesse Jones, which began Jan. 15, 1985, will come to a close. Jones, currently serving as chief of staff for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, began his law enforcement career in Jefferson when he joined the force as one of six deputies in 1985. Today, he oversees the operations of an office employing 31 deputies as well as support staff and the Sheriff.
Jones said this week that he didn’t really get interested in law enforcement until after he had done some different jobs. Growing up in a military family, he said he lived in many different places before settling in Berkeley County in the mid-1960s. A graduate of Martinsburg High School, he served three years in the United States Marine Corps, joining at the age of 17.
When Jones came on the force of the county sheriff’s office, he said there was much less population in the county then, but a lot less deputies as well. In addition to what most people see as police duties of stopping crime and making arrests, Jones explained that the deputies then had to serve all subpoenas, transport inmates to court or other necessary appointments and do all the court paperwork.
“We ran a county jail,” Jones said.
The jail, where the Circuit Court Clerk offices now reside, was staffed by jailers, but the deputies had to do a lot of work revolving around the prisoners.
“Now we have trip guards and bailiffs and reserves,” Jones said. “Back in the day, we did all of that work.”
Jones, after serving for almost 10 months, attended the West Virginia State Police Academy where he graduated at the Most Outstanding Officer in the class. His steady hand and gravitation toward leadership was already making its mark.
In 1995, Jones said that he took a job in Martinsburg with the IRS as a federal police officer. There he attended the Federal Law Enforcement Academy, being named Valedictorian of his class and earning top honors. After a bit over a year in his new position, Jones said he realized he missed his job in Jefferson County.
“I had looked at the money and benefits at the IRS,” Jones said, “but it was not the fast-paced job I was used to or that I loved.”
And so he returned under the leadership of then Sheriff Bill Senseney, the fourth sheriff at that time under which he had served.
Sitting then in the seat of Chief Deputy, Jones said the leadership role was one in which he was placed under five of the county’s seven sheriffs during his tenure. He was also Chief Deputy under Bob Buracker and Ed Boober when they were in the elected seat.
After 21 years of service with the Sheriff’s Office, Jones retired to take a position as the Contract Manager for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Harpers Ferry. In 2009, he once again returned to the Sheriff’s Office, this time under incoming Sheriff Bobby Shirley. Jones returned in the non-sworn civilian position of Chief of Staff under Shirley and remained in that position under Sheriff Pete Dougherty.
“Jones is the glue that keeps us all together. He runs the day to day operations in the sheriff’s office,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty said that when Jones walks out the door for the final time, the position of Chief Deputy will not be filled immediately, however, when filled, it will be the deputy position from within the ranks.
“But Jesse is about as good as you can get,” Dougherty said. The sheriff explained that Jones has been instrumental in creating an evaluation system at the office that provides much more accountability than in previous systems.
Jones, the father of two and grandfather of six, plans to spend time with his family. A trip to warmer weather is in order for he and his wife, where friends and family will be welcome to visit.
“We haven’t made any major decisions,” Jones said speaking of he and his wife, who retired earlier this year from the Berkeley County School Board.
Jones admits already that he will miss the job.
“We are a close group – a family,” he said when speaking of his fellow officers. “(Police work) gets in your blood. It’s been a good career. Jefferson County has been very good to me.”
There have been many changes over the years within the law enforcement environment. Jones said one of the biggest is the influx of the heroin epidemic.
“Back in the day, we had crack cocaine, some big federal drug busts, but this heroin – I have never seen something like it that affects all walks of life,” he said.
The manner of work has evolved as well. Jones explained that in today’s police work, there is much more technology Forensics has advanced and computer crimes are rampant.
“Today’s officers need to be so much more educated on the technology,” Jones said. “They can specialize in so many areas.”
Whatever the work, Jones will miss it and those who work with him will feel his absence.
“He has a great sense of humor but he’s all business. He is pleasant while getting the job done,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty also said he expects to see Jones around.
“It’s not in his nature to sit still,” Dougherty said. “I expect he will continue to be active.”
Jones had no response to questions regarding committed future plans. But the friends and family he has in Jefferson County will surely see him and will definitely stay connected.