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City of Duluth

Getting to Know Duluth Chief of Police Jacquelyn Carruth

Jacquelyn Carruth brings a lot of experience to her role as Duluth's Chief of Police. She’s held numerous positions in the department.
Jacquelyn Carruth was appointed Chief of the Duluth Police Department in 2022 becoming the first female Chief in the department’s history

Jacquelyn Carruth was appointed Chief of the Duluth Police Department in 2022. Her appointment was the latest step in a career that started in 1996.

“It’s a calling,” Carruth said. “You want to help people, and you have a heart to serve.”

With her appointment, she became the first female chief in the department’s history.  

Desire to help people

Growing up, no one in Carruth’s family had been involved in police work. It was just something she wanted to do.

“I’ve always had great respect for police,” she said. “I’d see a police officer helping someone, and I’d think, ‘I want to help people in that way’”.

That desire to help people has continued to drive Carruth throughout her career.

Community policing is integral to how the department works in Duluth

Wide range of experience

Carruth brings a lot of experience to her role as chief. She’s held numerous positions in the department.

Starting out as a patrol officer, she has had four promotions during her career, spending time in several different divisions, including being a detective and a member of the community policing group.

Community policing has become integral to the entire police department in Duluth, but initially, there was a separate group of officers with that specific role, and Carruth was part of it. It was one of her favorite stints.

“There were four of us, and we rode bicycles around the city, talking to business owners and people in the communities. It was a really neat thing that we got to do.”

An officer and a mother

Being a mom has had an influence on Carruth’s policing.

“My husband was also a police officer and so we were managing daycare situations,” she recalled. “Both of us had rotating shifts, and it was really difficult. But this police department is like a family so between people here at the police department and friends, we got the support we needed in order to take care of him and still do our jobs.”

Officers helping their fellow officers is something Carruth still sees in Duluth today. She knows firsthand how difficult the job can be for young couples and parents.

“In this job, if you don’t have the support of your family, you’re not going to work here for very long.”

Parenting and policing worked out so well for her family that Carruth’s son is a police officer in Cherokee County.

Goals as chief

Carruth has fully embraced her responsibilities as Chief.

“I’m enjoying what I’m doing now,” she said, “I feel very like I’m helping to shape the future of the police department and doing good things for the city.”

Carruth was serving as the department’s Deputy Chief under Chief Randy Belcher. She liked the direction the department was going in under Belcher and wanted to continue in that direction.

“He had it set on such a good path,” she said, “that all I needed to do was just expand on some things.”

Three things she’s emphasized are cooperation with other police departments, implementing new technology and community outreach.

The center integrates communication, video, and data

Sharing with other departments

Carruth has put an emphasis on sharing information and cooperating with other police departments.

“We’re all on the same team,” she said. “Think about it. If Johns Creek is keeping their place safe, then we’re safe. The same thing with Suwanee. What they do at their police departments helps to keep it safe here. And we do the same. We all want the same things: to lower crime and serve our community in the best way.”

Making Use of technology

Carruth has really expanded the department’s use of technology in many areas. Duluth’s real-time crime center is the centerpiece of those efforts.

“We’re so proud of it,” she said. “We’ve been getting tours non-stop ever since we did the upgrades. People from all over are coming to try and mimic what we’ve done.”

The department’s Real Time Crime Center is the centerpiece of the department’s use of technology.

They’ve built a state-of-the-art center that combines communication, video and data to help serve the people of Duluth.

The center’s most prominent feature is the two walls of video monitors, which show maps, live videos and real-time information to the center’s operators.

Fully integrated

The largest monitor shows a map of Duluth and where the over 400 cameras are located. It also shows where all the officers out on patrol are located. When one of them goes on a call, the center’s operators can click on that and see which cameras are immediately around that location.

Carruth pointed out the immense benefits of that integration.

“The technology with these cameras is so great that if an officer is dispatched to an accident, the monitors in here are able to send a video of the accident to the officer before the officer even gets to the site. It eliminates the situation where people say ‘I didn’t run the red light!’”

License plate readers can identify anyone with outstanding warrants or who is driving stolen cars. Live feeds allow the operators to keep up with breaking local or national news and severe weather events.

An interactive map shows where all the officers out on patrol are located and can tie into the city’s over 400 cameras.

All of that happens in real-time, but the department also keeps a 30-day archive for information that might help with ongoing investigations. 

Community outreach

Community outreach was one area Carruth wanted to expand. It has been a department-wide philosophy for several years, and Carruth saw an opportunity to emphasize it even more by appointing a coordinator.

“We have this brilliant Public Information Officer, Corporal Ted Sadowski,” she said, “who organizes these programs. So I put him as the coordinator to expand on the different events that we do in the community.”

“Police work has evolved,” she said. “I’ve been in it almost 30 years, and it’s evolved to the point where we are truly serving the community in the way that it was meant to be served.”

Public Safety Ambassador Program

Another way Carruth has expanded the department’s community outreach is by hiring two civilian Public Safety Ambassadors.

“We never really considered it until recently,” she said. “We saw that the Marietta PD had a successful program where they hired civilians to handle some of the tasks that police officers get dispatched to, but you don’t necessarily need to carry a gun and wear a vest to go to.”

The Public Safety Ambassadors handle non-confrontational calls like fraud reports, broken down cars and directing traffic when something’s blocking the road. The program has proven to be remarkably successful, handling up to 20% of the calls that officers used to handle.

Positive results

The Duluth PD has received numerous accolades for what they do and how they do it.

The department has met the certification requirements of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police for 15 years, an achievement very few departments in the state can claim.

Maybe more important than any official recognition is the support Carruth sees from the city government and the public. She feels that support has been earned by the department.

“I feel really thankful that we have great support from the City Council, our city manager and the mayor,” she said.

Carruth is also very appreciative of the support the department sees every day from the people of Duluth. That support comes from the job the officers and support staff do every day. “We just have outstanding officers that work here,” Carruth said. “They’re loyal to the citizens of Duluth and they’re loyal to each other. I think they’re proud to work here.

Photo caption: Jacquelyn Carruth was appointed Chief of the Duluth Police Department in 2022 becoming the first female Chief in the department’s history.

Written By

Glenn is a freelance writer living in Gwinnett County. He writes about a broad range of subjects, including business, music, sports, and nonprofits. His work has been published in magazines and websites nationwide.

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