“He was always somebody you revered. It was just the way he carried himself and the respect and influence he had over all the young officers.”
Retired Homewood Police Officer Jessie Mack passed away this week at the age of 75.
Mack made history as the first African-American police officer to join the Homewood, Alabama force. The area is predominately white, and in 1974 when Mack joined the department, he was not always in the easiest position.
His co-workers called him ‘legendary’.
“It wasn’t something he bragged about, or even mentioned, but I think he was quietly proud of that,’’ said Police Chief Tim Ross. “That contributed to his legendary status in our department, if not in the police community as a whole.”
Mack passed away this week after a battle with cancer.
Mack’s death fell especially hard on fellow Homewood officers. “I’m heartbroken,’’ said Kevin Batchelor. “He was one of the best officers and finest persons I’ve been blessed to have met.”
Mack was clearly a beloved icon in the department, always making sure to take care of his brothers and sisters in blue.
“He was like a papa lion watching over his man cubs, teaching them how to hunt and survive and be men,” said Batchelor. “I never told him, but he was one of my greatest mentors on the job.”
Chief Ross worked alongside Mack for nearly 20 years. He says that Mack more than made an impression on the law enforcement community — one that will surely last for years to come.
“Whenever somebody found out where I worked, they would inevitably ask me if I knew Jessie Mack because he was so well-liked and so well-thought-of,” said Ross.
Whenever I saw him show up to a situation, I knew everything was going to be alright.
According to a report from AL.com, the law enforcement icon joined the Homewood department on Dec. 1, 1974. He retired Oct. 31, 2006. Then, in 2011, Mack returned to town to serve as a Municipal Court bailiff.
He remained in that position until this week.
“He really enjoyed catching the bad guy and seeing justice served,’’ said the chief, “but he also was extremely fair, kind and generous to people who needed service.”
His friends and family say he went out of this world peacefully.
“His body just finally gave up,’’ Ross said. “One of our officers was there with him at the hospital and got to talk to him before he died. He was very alert and in good spirits. He didn’t suffer.”
Retired Lt. Dan Smith looked back fondly on the time he spent with Mack.
“We all loved him like a brother and he loved us,’’ he said. “Whenever I went any place with him, I knew two things – we were going to get there in land-speed-record time, and I would be safe. Regardless of where we went or what we were doing, I was never worried about anything happening that he couldn’t handle. Because Jessie Mack knew how to take care of business.”
“Jessie was the ‘cavalry.’ Whenever I saw him show up to a situation, I knew everything was going to be alright.”
— AL.com (@aldotcom) May 9, 2019
“I’ll never forget his smile. I’ll never forget his sideways glance when you were telling him something he didn’t quite believe. Still smiling. I feel like he’s still smiling now,’’ Smith said in a Facebook post. “Farewell Jessie. It was the honor of a lifetime being your friend.”