A Berkeley County sheriff's deputy whose driver's license had been suspended when his cruiser collided with a vehicle carrying a family of five has resigned, an agency official said Monday.
A week after the wreck that injured him and the five others, Deputy Justice Jenkins, 34, of Swift Boulevard near Goose Creek was cited Monday by the S.C. Highway Patrol for driving under suspension.
The ticket is for a first offense, Berkeley County court records stated, and is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Jenkins, whose cruiser had been involved in at least one other wreck this year, had neglected to tell his superiors before the most recent crash that his license was no longer valid, sheriff's Chief Deputy Rick Ollic said.
The suspension had come a week earlier because the insurance on his personal vehicle had been canceled, Ollic said.
The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles had no way to tell the law agency that its officer's license had been suspended for issues outside the scope of his job, said Florence McCants, a spokeswoman for the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy.
"The DMV will notify the individual person who is under suspension," she said. "It is the duty of the officer to notify his law enforcement agency. The DMV wouldn't know whether the person is a law enforcement officer or not."
A member of the sheriff's Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, or HEAT, team, Jenkins responded around 8:20 p.m. Aug. 11 to help another deputy with a domestic disturbance in which shots had been fired on State Road.
His black Dodge Charger patrol car, which had flashing blue lights on all four sides but not on top, was going about 20 mph on Harbour Lake Drive when it went through a red light at Red Bank Road, the Highway Patrol said in a report released Monday.
The cruiser's siren also was activated, but it was dark and rainy, the crash report noted. Two lanes of traffic also had stopped for the police car at the intersection, partially obstructing the view of the cruiser for cars in the third lane.
In that third lane, a 2014 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle going the 45-mph speed limit continued through the green light, and its front right side struck the front left side of Jenkins' cruiser, the report showed.
The most seriously injured, Jenkins was taken to Medical University Hospital, and he was released the next day.
In the SUV, a man and a woman from Goose Creek and their 10-, 13- and 17-year-old family members also were taken to Trident Medical Center because of possible injuries.
Jenkins was found to be at fault in the wreck, but he was not ticketed for causing it because he was responding to an emergency call, Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly said Monday.
But it led to his employer finding out that his license had been suspended Aug. 4 because he didn't have insurance, Ollic said.
The Sheriff's Office conducts twice-yearly audits on all deputies to make sure their driving credentials are in good standing, but in the meantime, Jenkins should have disclosed his suspension, Ollic said.
Sheriff's officials had planned to fire Jenkins, who instead resigned on Friday, Ollic explained.
"We do what we can do for checks and balances to make sure he's in compliance and to make sure deputies don't have issues with their licenses," Ollic said. "Unfortunately, he didn't notify us."
Jenkins had been involved in at least one other wreck recently, but it was unrelated to his license suspension, Ollic said.
On June 10, Jenkins' patrol car was going 10 mph and rear-ended a stopped vehicle on Red Bank Road at U.S. Highway 52 in Goose Creek, a crash report stated. Jenkins was transporting a prisoner to the county jail in Moncks Corner. Troopers said in the report that he wasn't paying attention.
Sheriff's officials looked into his driving record the next day, Ollic said, and found no suspensions.
The Sheriff's Office had employed Jenkins since February 2009, when he became a deputy at the jail.
He increased his qualifications at the Criminal Justice Academy and became a Class 1 law enforcement officer, allowing him to patrol the streets for the first time in April 2011.
Paperwork acquired from the academy Monday indicated that Jenkins' driver's license had not been suspended at any point during the five years before his transfer to the road for reasons of driving under the influence, reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter or leaving an accident scene.
He also had a valid license when he got a job at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center, the documents stated.
He was ticketed in fall 2008 for failing to surrender suspended tags, but that citation was resolved before the Sheriff's Office hired him early the next year. It also would not have disqualified him from becoming a lawman.
"We expect the officers, once in the program, to self-report suspensions to their agencies, who will in turn notify the academy," said McCants, the academy spokeswoman. "We don't conduct the background investigations, nor do we check on a student's status once they are enrolled in the program. ... We expect and hold the officer on his or her honor that they will do the right thing."
By law, Jenkins' current suspension and resignation would not stop him from getting a job at another agency, McCants said, though many departments wouldn't hire someone with a past suspension "for any reason."
Christina Elmore contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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