Chief Ennis looks back on career

Published 4:00 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Jimmy Ennis laughs as he remembers the day he interviewed for the Troy police chief position.

“I told them if they were looking for another Anthony Everage that wasn’t me,” Ennis said, referring to the longtime police chief who retired in 2011. “He laid out a path and all I could do was hope I could follow in his footsteps.”

And on the eve of his retirement as police chief, Ennis paused to reflect on that comment.

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“Have I done a good job? … I hope so,” he said, adding that history will tell the story. “Maybe it will be many years before history speaks.”

Ennis, 55, retires today after four years as police chief for the City of Troy. A ceremony honoring him begins at 2 p.m. at the Municipal Courtroom.

His retirement brings to a close a 32-year career in public service that started as a patrol officer at the Brantley Police Department and ended with him leading the city’s more than 55-person police force.

“We’ve been very fortunate, thanks to the mayor and city council,” Ennis said. “We’ve been able to increase our offices from 49 to 56 and I’m proud we were able to do that …

“We have more vehicles now we’re very well equipped and very well trained. That’s due again to the support from the mayor and city council.”

And due, in part, to the work Ennis has done to grow and develop the department. “I’ve been very blessed,” he said. “I couldn’t have worked for a better city or with better people.”

Ennis came to the Troy Police Department in July 1985, having earned a criminal justice degree from Troy University and worked at both the Brantley and Brundidge police departments. He quickly worked his way through the ranks, from a third-shift patrolman to captain over the detective department in 2012. Along the way were high profile and gut-wrenching cases – from deadly motor vehicle accidents to shootings to the abduction and assault of a Troy University student from her home in 2011; from burglaries and break-ins to a horrific home invasion in March 2012 during which a young couple’s will to survive saved their lives.

“You know, I can look back and say we closed those big cases,” he said. “Even the kidnapping .We know who did that; we didn’t prosecute him because he’s in jail on another charge … but we know.”

The home invasion that took place just a few months after Ennis took over as chief was a particularly frightening case to the community. After being tortured and threatened, one of the young victims shot and killed their attacker. “That one sticks with me,” Ennis said of the case. “That case was a terrible situation for the young couple, but they were truly an example of two people who had the will to live. I’m sure they carry scars to this day, but I’ll always respect their toughness and will to live.”

Despite the emotional impact of the work, he never once questioned his decision to serve as a law enforcement officer. “Some of it was tough,” Ennis said. “But I never doubted that’s what I wanted to do or needed to do.”

And he never waivered from his convictions: “I’ve always tried to do the right thing and to treat people the way I would want to be treated.”

That applies to the public he serves as well as the men and women who work with him. “This is a lonely job in some ways,” he said. “But you’ve got to be willing to listen to people … to have people close to you who are going to be loyal to you and at the same time be very honest with you. And you yourself have to be willing to be open to that kind of advice.”

Ennis said he was “truly blessed” to have that type of support and relationship with Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, now retired, and Lt. Bryan Weed. “And Jackie Carlisle and Melissa Ingram … I couldn’t ask for finer people to work with,” he said.

After today’s retirement ceremony, he’ll turn his focus to his wife, Jeannie, and his family: daughter Michelle and sons Tony (Rachel) and Jeffrey (Erin) and his two grandchildren. “I’ve got a list of things to keep me busy until after the first of the year,” Ennis said with a chuckle.

“After that, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

But he does know one thing for certain, and he struggled to hold back the emotion as he shared it on Thursday: “This – being chief – this has been the highlight of my career.”