From White Springs, to Jasper, to Jennings, the name Mel Black has been synonymous with law enforcement in Hamilton County.
In typical trademark fashion when interviewed about his pending retirement April 15, Jennings Police Chief Mel Black deadpanned, "We may not have been fancy, but we got the job done and we got it done right!"
Mel Black is a lawman who has seen it all and done it all for over 35 years of service behind the badge. Chief Black will retire - again - from law enforcement when he leaves the Jennings Police Department., albeit remaining active in the city as a part-time employee.
Mindful of Chief Black's background in public service, Town Manager Marshall Thomas is reviewing a suitable niche for Jennings that will take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience Chief Black has to offer.
Chief Black embarked on a career in law enforcement first as a patrolman and then investigator in Brunswick, GA. A move to Crescent City, first as a patrolman and subsequently Chief, was next in line for Black prior to joining the White Springs Police Department., again as a patrolman.
In vintage Mel Black fashion, he soon became WSPD Chief.
The transition to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department., was next for Mel in the capacity as jail administrator. Then Sheriff Charlie Rhoden soon heard from Mel Black, who lamented, "I want out of that jail." Rhoden accommodated and Mel Black was soon a Deputy with the HCSO.
In 1999 retirement number one took place and Mel went into private enterprise for the next three years.
At the time there was no police department in Jennings and HCSO was handling law enforcement responsibilities in the area. Through the encouragement of current Sheriff J. Harrell Reid, Mel Black was plucked from retirement, to assume the position of Police Chief in the City of Jennings.
It was then that Faron Gantous was hired as patrolman and Jennings had its own full-time police department.
"I'm ready for it," says Mel of his retirement. "I'm going to work flea markets and do the things I'm ready to do other than law enforcement."
The move - retirement - appears to set well with wife Melissa and daughter Amber, a HCHS 9th grade student.
In the military, Mel was with the Marine Corps Air Wing. He graduated from high school in Jacksonville - Central High - "now 'gone'" states Mel. His educational credits include one of the most prestigious law enforcement schools in both Georgia and Florida - Savannah Academy.
A era fades with the retirement of Mel Black.
Not the least bit shy in his personal assessment of then and now, retiring Jennings Police Chief Mel Black is unequivocal, "You could do more for people in the exercise of your duty, than you can do now. My type of policing is gone, but it was good - and it worked!"