Top candidate explains how he plans to serve Madison as its new police chief

MADISON, Ala. - Tuesday, the Madison City Council voted to enter into contract negotiations with David Jernigan to become the next Chief of Police.

In an interview with WHNT News 19, Jernigan said he is excited by the opportunity.

"I'm happy, and pumped, that the city council and the mayor have confidence in my abilities," he said.

About the man behind the new role

Jernigan has been driving past the city building and police department every day on his commute to his current job as Chief Deputy of the Madison County Sheriff's Office. He won't need to move to accept this new position.

"I moved here in 1995," he said. "Raised two daughters here. They graduated from local schools. My wife worked in the community. I go to church here. I volunteer here. I play here. This is a good fit for me," he stated.

Jernigan says he already knows key players from his current role, and the work he did on Redstone and in the community before coming to the sheriff's office.

"I'll just be changing a uniform and a badge, and working with the same people. I've got good relationships with the Madison County DA, the Limestone County DA, the US Attorney's Office, and a lot of our partners," he said. "And for the Madison Police, I know a lot of the ones who are in command positions now. Some of them, I taught at the police academy years ago. I've kind of come full circle, so to speak."

Jernigan said he wants to be Madison's police chief because he wants to give back to the community.

But he also acknowledges this job opening came at a good time for him. Sheriff Blake Dorning already announced he will not run for sheriff again. Usually, that means the chief deputy will not be re-appointed, too. The sheriff's office will soon be in transition.

"Sheriff Dorning is in his last 18 months of office," he said. "I knew that position was going to end, and I would end with it. I think a new sheriff, whoever is in that position, has to have their own number two, chief deputy. I just felt that this was good timing. If it had not popped up, I would have left in 18 months with the sheriff. But he gave me his blessing. He said, 'I want you to move forward with this.' That gave me a lot of confidence that I was doing the right thing," he explained.

What's Next

The Madison City Council still needs to vote to appoint Jernigan to the position. He is negotiating with the mayor on the terms and is expected to be appointed on June 12 at the council's next meeting.

If he assumes command, he will be leading a department in need of healing. The previous chief, Larry Muncey, resigned following a contempt of court scandal.

Jernigan explained how he plans to promote that healing.

"I think the most important part of this department are the people, and those are the ones I want to get to know," he said. "I want to sit down and talk with them. Kind of get to know what the climate and the culture is moving forward. I want to take that as an advantage and move forward based on their input. Most importantly is to meet with them, but I think above all that is to listen. Listen to find out what's working and what's not working, and make some decisions based on that."