Chief of Police Joe Ben Jenkins

Chief of Police Joe Ben Jenkins

Cartersville Police Department, Georgia

End of Watch Friday, September 5, 1930

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Joe Ben Jenkins

Chief of Police Joe Jenkins was shot and killed with his own service weapon while struggling with an intoxicated subject.

Chief Jenkins was at home when he was awakened by a noise at 1:00 am after two men stopped a car in front of his house to drink. He placed the men under arrest and then asked a passerby to cover them so he could return to his home to dress before taking the prisoners to jail.

As he turned around one of the drunk men turned the car on, prompting Chief Jenkins to retrieve his gun and confront the man. A struggle ensued in which the man disarmed Chief Jenkins and then shot him.

The suspect was lynched by an angry mob on October 1st, 1930, after being taken from the county jail.

Chief Jenkins had served with the Cartersville Police Department for 12 years. He was survived by his wife and nine children and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, Bartow County, Georgia.


  • Age 65
  • Tour 12 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Lynched by mob

at home, DIP, off duty

Most Recent Reflection

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Police Chief J. B. Jenkins was murdered by John "Willy" Clark. Chief Jenkins, armed with a pistol and dressed in his nightclothes, approached the vehicle ... They became argumentative and Chief Jenkins informed them that they were under arrest ... At the same time, Mr. Oscar (Shorty) Green, a local cotton mill employee was driving by on his return from working a late shift. The chief hailed him down ... handed Green his pistol, and requested him to hold the suspects until he could return to his home to dress. As Chief Jenkins turned to enter his house, Willie Clark attempted to start his car. Retrieving his pistol from Green, the chief stepped closer to the vehicle and ordered Clark from the car. Clark grabbed the pistol and a struggle began. Clark was jerked out of the car and was struck on the head by a brick thrown by Oscar Green. ... Clark ... fired two shots. The first shot struck Chief Jenkins under the right eye and the bullet penetrated the brain, killing him instantly. The second shot was aimed at Oscar Green and grazed his ear. Green also sustained some severe bites during the struggle. Clark's brother fled the scene and Willie Clark drove away in the stolen Model A Ford with license plates from Cuthbert, Georgia. Chief Jenkins' son-in-law, Hugh Pettit, rushed out of the house in time to see his father-in-law shot and the car being driven away... Just before dawn, on South Bartow Street, Hugh Pettit discovered the stolen Ford ... Bartow County Commissioner A. V. Neal and Cartersville Mayor Jack Hill offered a reward of $1000 for the capture of Willie Clark ... Chief Jenkins' pistol was recovered in Chattanooga where it had been sold. ... Willie Clark was captured in Murray County on 9 September. He was wounded in the leg during the chase. ... During the ride to Cartersville, Clark admitted that he had fired the shot that killed Chief Jenkins but claimed that it was an accident. I just thought that this belongs here.

Jesus Matthews
Local Historian

March 22, 2020

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