Matthew 25:21, NKJV
Recently, members of the Thin Blue Line in Escambia County, FL, said goodbye to one of our own. He was not killed in the line of duty, so he will not be memorialized on any of the popular law enforcement websites. His portrait will not be posted on the “Wall of Heroes” at the agency’s headquarters. His name will not be engraved on a granite memorial, honoring his many years of faithful service. The world may not remember his name.
However, his name is forever engraved upon the hearts of everyone who knew him.
Sgt. Royce F. “Roy” Jennings, Jr. was laid to rest this week. Royce was old school, having served with the Escambia County Florida Sheriff’s Office for nearly 30 years. He had been around for so long that he became a fixture among the community. He loved justice, he loved his community, and he loved life.
Talented and smart, Roy served in many facets throughout his distinguished career, including: Motor Unit, Traffic, Honor Guard, Field Training Officer, Hostage Negotiator. Roy co-hosted “Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers” on television and authored domestic violence policies. He had a natural talent for dealing with people, which made him a tremendous asset to law enforcement and to the civilian community. It was often said, “Roy could tell you to go to Hades and you would look forward to the trip!”
Roy embraced traditional law enforcement values, including justice, fairness, accountability, and accepting responsibility for one’s behavior. He instilled those characteristics in both his personal life and life, which made him an outstanding leader and role model.
Roy’s philosophy was that law enforcement and civilians should both be held accountable. He emphasized this to me one day when he stopped me for excessive speed. Instead of making me fell like a total idiot, Roy courteously, yet firmly, said, “Ms. Sizemore, I hold you to a higher standard because of where you work and because of who your family is.”
He took his oath to serve and protect very seriously. He was always helping others. When I was on my way to work one cold and rainy Monday, a female motorist had a flat tire. In the midst of the miserable weather was Roy, who had stopped to help when no one else would. Knowing him, he would have said that he was “just doing his job”, but he was a hero to that person.
Roy was all business while on the job, but off duty, he was quite the entertainer. A talented musician with an innate sense of rhythm, he played the drums for the former Sheriff’s Outreach Band, “Southern Heat”. He was so enthusiastic that he resembled “Animal”, the drummer from “The Muppet Show”. One could not help but have a good time just watching him.
As a recipient of multiple organ transplants, Roy knew that life is precious and fleeting. He lived life to the fullest and he was determined to make every day count. He encouraged everyone to the same.
In 2001, Roy endured a double lung transplant, and in 2009 he received a kidney from his lovely wife, Kimberly Ann. The couple was featured on the local news, encouraging organ donation. It was just one of the many ways that he had a positive impact upon the community.
In spite of the pain and suffering he endured, Roy never complained, nor did he engage in self- pity. His health may have failed him, but his faith was strong, his joy was irrepressible, and contagious. His spirit was indomitable.
Sgt Jennings is survived by his beautiful and loving wife, Kim; his two sons, several grandchildren, and a large extended family. He left behind a grateful civilian and law enforcement community who are better people just for having known him. May we all live up to the example he set for us.
Sergeant Roy Jennings, gone, but never forgotten.
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