Pullman police chief retires after 12 years

Gary Jenkins introduced body cameras to department, strengthened relationships in community



Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins, pictured with Butch T. Cougar, will be succeeded by Pullman PD Cmdr. Jake Opgenorth.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins is retiring from the police department this year after 12 years of protecting the Pullman community and 45 years of serving in law enforcement. 

Before assuming the position in 2010, Jenkins worked in California as a civilian officer. He first became interested in law enforcement in high school when he went on ride-alongs with police officers, wanting to make a difference in the community, he said.

“No matter what you do in law enforcement, the work that you do does make a difference in your community,” Jenkins said. “There’s definitely a lot of satisfaction and a lot of reward in helping victims of crime. We see it close up and first hand.” 

Jenkins said his service in Pullman has been the highlight of his career in law enforcement, and he has enjoyed being a leader in the community. 

“I think it’s evident that he loves the community,” said Jake Opgenorth, Pullman Police Department commander. “He wants to do what’s best for the community, and that goes as well for our department. It’s clear that he’s proud of our police department.”

After working alongside Jenkins and spending 30 years at the police department, Opgenorth will succeed him as police chief.

Opgenorth said Jenkins is a hard worker with a great sense of humor, and he always tried to make a positive impact on the community. Jenkins never seems like he is off duty and continues working all the time. 

Jenkins said one of his biggest goals was moving the department forward technologically. An example of his innovation was introducing body cameras to the officers.

He also balanced engaging with the public as the face of the department, and he ensured the department was hiring the right employees, Jenkins said. Throughout his time in Pullman, he learned to be open and honest with the community and to learn from mistakes.

Jenkins has worked on building relationships in the community, both at WSU and in the city leaving behind a legacy of openness and guidance, Opgenorth said.

“I think that everybody is just happy for him. He’s had a long and successful career,” Opgenorth said. “When we see someone like Chief Jenkins leave at a time of his choice and a time that works best for him, we’re excited for what his next adventure will be. We’re just really excited and happy for him and always look at it like, ‘someday that will be me.’”

Jenkins said he will miss working with the people in the department after he retires.

“They’re an outstanding staff. It’s the people here I’m going to miss most. Working in a supportive community, I think is every police chief’s dream. I definitely will miss my regular engagement with the community,” Jenkins said.

At the moment, Jenkins does not have any major plans for the future, but he hopes to travel more with his family, he said. He would like to visit his children in Texas and California as well as spend time woodworking.