PD honors legacy of town’s first Black police officer, former slave

Edmund Jenkins was born a slave in 1845 and began his career as a policeman in the 1890s


By Police1 Staff

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — In celebration of Black History Month, the Mount Pleasant Police Department is honoring the life and service of the town’s first Black police officer. A plaque dedicated to Edmund Jenkins now sits in the lobby of police headquarters, according to a release from the agency. 

Town records show Jenkins was born into slavery in 1845 in McClellanville, S.C., according to the release. He first served in the military and worked as a farm laborer before serving as a policeman and town marshal from the 1890s to the 1920s. Jenkins was 85 years old when he died in December of 1930. 

A plaque and photo honor Edmund Jenkins, the first Black police officer in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
A plaque and photo honor Edmund Jenkins, the first Black police officer in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Mount Pleasant Police Department)

The agency’s public information officer, Inspector Don Calabrese, spoke with family members of Jenkins. His 99-year-old granddaughter, Edna Hortense Jenkins-Smith, traveled to Mount Pleasant as a child to visit. Her grandfather was a wonderful man who valued education and being a good citizen, Jenkins-Smith told Calabrese. Debra Jenkins-Lewis, great-granddaughter of Edmund Jenkins, never had the opportunity to meet her great-grandfather, but wants to continue to honor the family history. Ms. Jenkins-Lewis sees the plaque as “change for a legacy well deserved,” according to Calabrese.  

“Edmund Jenkins was a respected and faithful citizen, his life and service to the Town of Mount Pleasant is a valuable part of our history,” Mount Pleasant Police said in a statement. 

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