Gadsden State hires first chief of police

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Gadsden State Community College is one step closer to building its police department with the hiring of a chief of police.

Dr. Kathy Murphy, Gadsden State president, announced recently that Jay Freeman will take on the leadership role for the new department.

“We are delighted to have Chief Freeman on our staff,” she said. “We know he will do an amazing job in building Gadsden State’s very first police department. We believe his past work experience and his passion for public safety and security make him the best person for this new role at Gadsden State.”

In March, Murphy announced that the college was creating a new police department to serve all five campuses. It will merge with the already established security department to increase the level of protection for the college. Currently, Gadsden State has eight full-time and eight part-time security officers. The new police officers are required to have an increased level of training and will have arresting power.

“We can have sworn officers on our campuses who will conduct complex misdemeanor and felony investigations,” Murphy said. “They will have a strong presence that will hinder criminal activity. Just having them on campus should make our students and our employees feel safe and secure.”

Effective June 26, Freeman will assume the role of chief of police. A swearing-in ceremony will be held at a later date. He comes to Gadsden State from the Southside Police Department, where he served as captain of investigations. His role also included law enforcement training and management of school resource officers, as well as media and public relations responsibilities.

“In my position as captain at the Southside Police Department, I’ve had the opportunity to safeguard the well-being of citizens and establish a safe and secure environment,” Freeman said. “I am motivated to extend this dedication to the Gadsden State community.”

Freeman started his law enforcement career in 2007 at the Rainbow City Police Department and the Ohatchee Police Department before moving to the Southside Police Department in 2009.

“From a young age, I’ve had a strong passion for community service,” Freeman said. “I’ve always desired to make my community safer. I’ve always wanted to be part of something greater than myself. Law enforcement was the ideal way for me to uphold these values. Protecting and serving, promoting peace and ensuring fairness align with my core beliefs. I believe law enforcement is more than just enforcing the law. It’s about community engagement, creating safe environments and helping those in need. My role is an opportunity to improve people’s lives and contribute to a harmonious community.”

Freeman said he is honored to be responsible for law enforcement in an educational environment.

“I understand that a college is not just an educational institution – it’s a home for its students and staff,” he said. “It’s a place where people should feel secure as they pursue their academic and professional goals; therefore, maintaining public safety at Gadsden State directly aligns with my passion and my career’s mission.”

Freeman said he is motivated by the unique challenges and opportunities that come with ensuring the safety of a college community.

“My top priority is to work closely with students, staff and local law enforcement to ensure the safety and security of our campuses in Etowah, Calhoun and Cherokee counties,” he said. “I will use my skills, knowledge and determination to ensure everyone involved feels secure and protected.”

The Etowah County native and Southside High School graduate earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration in 2018 from Columbia Southern University. In 2020, he was awarded another Bachelor of Science, in Business Administration Management from Waldorf University. Two years later, he earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of West Alabama.

Freeman has had extensive leadership training at the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, having completed the Command Leadership Institute and the Supervisor Institute. He also completed the FBI Instructor Development course. Freeman serves as an adjunct instructor at the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy and an active shooter instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers.

He is married to Laura Champion Freeman. The couple have three daughters, Parker Kate, 11; Lennyn Grace, 6; and Ellie Jay, 4.

“They are the most important part of my life and the reason for everything I do,” he said. “My goal is to make the world a safer place for them and for all kids to grow and thrive.”

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