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Pendley retires from jail


Pendley retires from jail

Pendley hangs up holster after 38 years 


Staff Writer


Lt. Harold D. Pendley

Article contributed by The Journal Record

HAMILTON  - Harold Dean Pendley of Winfield, the jail administrator for the Marion County Jail in Hamilton, is retiring on Jan. 2 after 38 years in law enforcement.

Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams said he has named Scott Welch, the former police chief of Winfield, to be Pendley’s replacement. 

Williams said at Pendley’s retirement reception at the jail on Dec. 19 that Pendley, 65, has been with the department for 17 years, starting in 1997 as a deputy.

He started his law enforcement career in 1973 attending the police academy at Mira Costa College in Oceanside, Calif. He started working part-time in 1973 for the Oceanside Police Department. 

He then worked for the Loomis Armored Car Service in 1974 until accepting a deputy position with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department in 1976. He served as the investigator and chief deputy until 1991. 


Pendley was police chief of Brilliant

In January 1992, Pendley accepted the position of police chief of Brilliant, serving for five years before coming to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. 

In recent years, he has been a deputy lieutenant in charge of the county jail as the administrator. Williams appointed him about 11 years ago as jail administrator after taking office as sheriff. 

“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been good," Pendley said just before his retirement reception got underway. “There have been good times here and there have been bad times here. It’s like any job. You enjoy some of it and some of it you don’t."

Asked what he would be doing in retirement, he said, “Probably whatever my wife wants. She’s just waiting.”

He and his wife, Debbie,  marked their 44th wedding anniversary on the day of the reception. 

One son, Bill Pendley, works as a deputy for the sheriff’s department and is a sergeant in charge of patrol, sex offender cases, investigations and arson cases.  Another son, Jimmy Pendley, works as a sergeant for the Hamilton Police Department.

The elder Pendley said there will be some sociable aspects of the job that he will miss. 

“I’m going to miss the camaraderie of being able to see the guys during the day, and just being able to stop and talk with them, and just share what’s going on," Pendley said.  


Pendley, sheriff call for new jail

Asked about the challenges faced in the future by those on the force, he pointed out the inmate capacity problems at the county jail as being the biggest problem to solve. 

“The jail is getting older and is costing more to maintain it, upkeep it and everything else,” he said. “Before, you never saw females in jail. Now, we are running 24 or 25 females at a time. 

“We’re running a dorm of females rather than just a couple of cells like you would see 15 or 20 years ago. I think with drug problems like we see now, we’re going to see more and more of the females.

“I see the problem we have is we can’t break the inmates down the way we want to. You have sex offenders you can’t put in general population, so you have to create areas for them in a situation where you don’t have room in the first place.”

He said when the jail was first built, deputies did not have to contend with a number of problems that are around today. 

“We need to come up with a new jail and let the sheriff and the jail administrator design the jail, because they know what is needed, Pendley said. “An architect does not need to come in and say, ‘This is what you need.’”

Williams has also repeatedly called for a new jail to replace the current aging facility, which was built in 1979 for 86 inmates but repeatedly has 110 to 120 inmates housed at a time. It has repeatedly been written up in fire inspection reports for overcrowding, which Williams said also is a safety issue for jailers. There are 12 employees at the jail, counting himself. 

Surplus prisoners--both male and female--are given a mattress, a blanket and a mattress to bed down on the floor in secured dayrooms, Williams has said.

He has called for a new jail for at least 200 inmates, which he says would be sufficient for growth over the next 40 years--although he has also said it might need to hold as many as 250.

Williams also has warned that a federal judge or state fire marshal could close the current county jail, which would lead to complications and bureaucracy in building and maintaining the jail.


Williams offers his appreciation

At the reception, Williams presented a plaque of appreciation to Pendley, as well as his .40-caliber service weapon. 

“I want to personally thank you, Harold, and all that you’ve done--not just for me, but for the Marion County Sheriff’s Department  and the Marion County citizens,” Williams said. “Mr. Harold and I have been through a lot together. He does a lot behind the scenes that no one sees. We’ve been through four audits together--no write-ups and only one recommendation in that time.

“He has taken a burden off me in terms of the jail because the biggest headache I have is the county jail, and Harold was there to help me with all this. I personally want to thank you for that."

Speaking to family and law enforcement in the room, Pendley said he "really enjoyed" his time in Marion County, noting he served under former sheriff Bud Purser and Williams. 

“Kevin has come along and amazed me and amazed a lot of officers of how far he has come in the 11 years he has been here. He has been a great leader. I can’t ask for a better person to work for,” Pendley said. 

He noted he has told Welch that he needs to “keep the pressure off the boss man, because he has enough headaches.”

Pendley said many of the men in the room work the roads, and he knows what that is like. But he also urged officers not to make promises to prisoners that the jailers can’t keep, such as, “Oh, you’ll be out in three hours,” when they may know they may not be out in two or three days.

On loyalty, he said, “Don’t ask what the department can do for you but what can you do for the department. Be professional. Always be courteous. Try to treat the people with a little dignity and treat them the way you want to be treated in the same situation. And it will never fail you, I guarantee you. Thanks.”


Welch was with Winfield police 

As for Pendley’s replacement, Williams said he moved Welch laterally from the Marion County Drug Task Force, where he had been a drug investigator, to the sheriff’s department approximately a year ago. 

Welch, a Lamar County native, started with the drug task force in January 2013 after resigning from the Winfield Police Department after  14 years. During his time in Winfield, he served as investigator and for eight years as Winfield’s police chief prior to Bobby Blaylock taking that position in November 2012. 





Plaque Presentation


Service Weapon Presentation


Pendley Speaks at Reception


Reception Cake




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