Town of Jackson hires first female Police Chief

Published 4:58 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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JACKSON – Town officials here didn’t have to look far to find their next Chief of Police.

On June 14, Brenda Burnette accepted the oath to “protect and serve” the citizens of Jackson as their top law enforcement officer. Prior to that she worked part-time for the Jackson Police, holding the rank of Captain and as the lead investigator for Chief John Young.

“I’m ready to serve the citizens of Jackson as their police chief, said Burnette who has worked in law enforcement since 1986. “I have a lot of things I want to implement with our senior citizens and our young people. We have a great little town here, one that I proudly call as my home. I want to do all I can to keep this as a great little town.”

She also plans to “hit the sidewalk.”

“I want to go door-to-door and talk to our residents and business owners. I want to find out their concerns,” Burnette said. “I want to be involved in my town, with my citizens. I want them to get to know me.”

On the flip side, Burnette said she will maintain an open door policy at her office.

“Come in and talk to me about anything,” she said.

Burnette’s first official day as Jackson Police Chief was June 15.

“I’m so proud to turn this over to Brenda,” said Chief Young, who has retired a second time from being a full-time police officer. “Brenda and I were classmates in 1990 at the first-ever BLET [Basic Law Enforcement Training] program at Halifax Community College. She’s impressed me with her work as a detective and even has taught me a thing or two. I trust her. She’ll do a great job.”

Burnette, a 1979 graduate of Northampton County High School, said her career in law enforcement began with a chance meeting with the legendary Milton Drew, the now late Major and Chief Jailer with the Northampton Sheriff’s Office.

“I was working as a clerk at The Pantry (convenience store in Jackson),” she recalled. “One day, Milton Drew walks in and got to talking about a career in law enforcement. He convinced me to go talk to Sheriff Bob Corey, who hired me in 1984 as a dispatcher and that’s how I started.”

Two years later, Burnette was sworn in as a Special Deputy in Northampton County. After completing her BLET certification, she continued her work as a dispatcher before becoming a part-time officer with the Conway Police Department.

Northampton Sheriff John Wood started Burnette on patrol soon after she gained some experience working in Conway.

Burnette said she did spend sometime away from the Sherriff’s Office, particularly when her son Marcel was young. Her work would eventually inspire her son to begin his own career at the Sheriff’s Office. He is now the Police Chief in Garysburg.

Burnette then worked as a campus police officer for then Chowan College in Murfreesboro and from there she went to Weldon Police Department where she was a Lieutenant. She eventually returned to the Northampton Sheriff’s Office, working as a School Resource Officer at both high schools.

A promotion to Detective Sergeant in 2004 brought Burnette back into the nitty-gritty work of law enforcement. From there she worked her way up the ranks to Lieutenant of Investigations and then Captain, retiring in November of 2013.

Since 2013, she continued her part-time duties with the Jackson Police and later gained employment as a security officer at Halifax Community College and for the State of North Carolina as an Internal Affairs Investigator.

“It’s hard to believe I’ve been in law enforcement this long, but it’s been a rewarding career, especially seeing my son follow in my footsteps. I’m grateful to the town officials here in Jackson for giving me the opportunity to continue to do what I love so much,” Burnette concluded.

A swearing-in event was held on June 22 for family and friends to celebrate with Burnette. Her son and granddaughter, Marcel and Makayla Goffington, both spoke to offer up encouragement to Burnette for her new position. Makayla said she knows her grandma already has a lot of experience, and she’s going to treat everyone like family.

Northampton County Clerk of Court Laquitta Green Cooper administered the oath of office to Burnette, who was joined by her husband, Tony Burnette, along with Marcel and Makayla.

Afterwards, Burnette expressed her gratitude to everyone who had shown their support, and promised to give her all as the new chief.

(Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Staff Writer Holly Taylor contributed to this story.)


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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