Former head of the Alabama 800 megahertz radio system, Kevin Jenkins, will replace the previous director, Jerry Jackson. Jackson announced his retirement in July, according to a press release.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the citizens of Calhoun County,” Jenkins said by phone Tuesday. “Calhoun County is known for providing great training and services to those who use 911, and I’m looking for that reputation to continue.”
Chair of the selection committee Richard Dickson said the board determined the qualifications for an ideal candidate in August and announced the opening in September.
Dickson said that because Jackson had served as the director for 25 years, the board wanted to advertise the opening nationally to attract candidates from across the country.
The committee listed both minimum and ideal qualifications for the position which included education and experience working with 911 and emergency response systems. Dickson said that aside from public safety experience, the committee also wanted to hire someone who could handle business, technical and managerial responsibilities.
“We were trying hard to get the most well-rounded, balanced candidate,” Dickson said.
Jason Odom, who serves as the board’s attorney, said by phone Tuesday that the committee got responses from nine applicants, but Jenkins was unquestionably the most qualified.
“He had his first job as a 911 dispatcher before he even went to college,” Odom said.
Jenkins’ first job in communications was as an announcer for WHMA-FM in Anniston. While enrolled at the University of Alabama, he worked as a 911 dispatcher for the Northport Police Department.
Jenkins said he even tried to work for the Calhoun County 911 District when he was in high school, but because he was too young they wouldn’t hire him.
“I always wanted to work in 911 communications. I loved it — it basically manifested itself into a lifelong pursuit,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins has been involved in public safety for 20 years. He recently served as the director for the Alabama Regional Communications System, which formed in 2011 to manage the 800 MHz public safety communications in both Talladega and Calhoun counties.
Even though Jenkins is from Alabama and the 911 board is excited that he has a local background, it did not give him an edge over the other candidates, Dickson said.
Jenkins said one of his main goals as the new executive director for the Calhoun County 911 District is to begin dispatching for municipal fire agencies in the county.
“Right now we only dispatch for volunteer agencies, and it will increase efficiency by being able to provide for them,” he said.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.