Readers’ Choice Man of the Year

Chief Inspector J.J. Leatherwood assumed command of the Investigative Services Division on July 1, 2021. Leatherwood has been serving the community of Bartlett, TN since 1996.

Twenty-five years of exemplary service to the Bartlett Community

The votes are in and our readers have spoken:  2021’s Man of the Year is Bartlett Police Department’s Chief Inspector J.J. Leatherwood.  Having served the community as a law enforcement officer and leader of law enforcement officers for over 25 years, Leatherwood’s career has been marked with achievements and exemplary service to his community.

Chief Inspector J.J. Leatherwood is a lifelong resident of the City of Bartlett and a graduate of Bartlett High School, class of 1990.  He was hired by the Bartlett Police Department as a patrol officer in 1996.  As a patrolman, he worked as a field training officer, responsible for the development of new patrolman into skilled experienced law enforcement officers.

In 2000, Leatherwood was promoted to detective and was assigned to general investigations where he worked fugitive, fraud, seizures, and narcotics cases.

Promoted to lieutenant in 2012, he supervised the traffic unit, investigative services division in both general investigations and narcotics.  He was promoted to captain in 2018 and spent time as the commander of the investigative services division, patrol and traffic unit.

While J.J. Leatherwood was Captain, the Traffic Unit received multiple prestigious state safety awards, including the Governor’s Cup. The unit placed 1st overall in 2020 and 2nd in 2021.

While serving as the traffic commander, he led the unit to multiple state awards, including the 2019 Tennessee Law Enforcement Challenge Director’s Award.  The Law Enforcement Challenge is an innovative program supported by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association.  This program provides law enforcement agencies with an opportunity to demonstrate how they promote traffic safety initiatives in the communities they serve.  The LEC also allows agencies to learn from one another and establish goals in traffic safety enforcement and education.  This program targets four major traffic safety priorities:  occupant protection, impaired driving, distracted driving, and speeding.

In January, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office recognized Bartlett Police Department and 43 others during its 16th annual Law Enforcement Challenge.  Fifty-three applications were submitted:  17 from West Tennessee, and one submission from each of the Tennessee Highway Patrol districts.

THSO Director Buddy Lewis (former Sheriff of Tipton County and Police Chief in Covington) said, “The THSO is proud to recognize the hard work and dedication of Tennessee law enforcement agencies this year.  The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique obstacles we’ve never experienced before in traffic enforcement.  Despite this, our partners remained focused, diligent, and enthusiastic about saving lives across Tennessee roadways.  We appreciate all of our law enforcement partners and look forward to continuing our shared mission toward zero deaths.”

In a ceremony earlier this summer, Leatherwood was promoted and appointed the city’s chief investigative officer. His wife, Stephanie, was on hand to pin on the new badge and three-star collar devices.

In July, Leatherwood was appointed to Chief Inspector by Mayor A. Keith McDonald, where he currently serves as the Chief Inspector of the Investigative Services Division.  Chief Inspector Leatherwood holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Bethel University.

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