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Fallen Loudon County deputy’s son carries on father’s legacy

LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A legacy of service will be continued after a Loudon County Sheriff’s Office sergeant was killed in the line of duty.

For more than a week, we’ve been following the tragic death of Sgt. Chris Jenkins. He was hit on I-75 while working a call.

Fellow law enforcement officers from all over have been paying tribute. One comes from Jenkins’ own son.

Deputy Clay Jenkins spoke during last week’s memorial service, saying his father was his superhero. Clay pledged to continue wearing his uniform, following in his father’s footsteps.

Clay started his first day back on the job on Wednesday with a new badge number: his dad’s. He says he knew immediately he wanted to keep 904 in service.

“Nine-o-four, you have big shoes to fill,” Sgt. Jenkins’ dispatcher said over the radio to Clay. “We know your dad taught you everything you need to know to fill them. We will have your back every step of the way as you bring honor to nine-o-four. We love you Clay, we are proud of you, and so is your dad.”

Clay said it is a dream fulfilled.

“I’ve always dreamed of being my dad, following in his footsteps, so now being his badge number means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s one of the things I’ve always said jokingly that I would always do, was get that number. I didn’t want it this way, but God has a plan for everything.”

The Loudon County deputy will take over more than just the number. He will also become the new handler of his dad’s K-9 Deja and drive his dad’s patrol car.

“As long as I’m living and as long as there’s a Jenkins, I think that I’m just going to carry on the legacy. I feel like the torch has been passed on to me, so we’ll take it on from here,” Clay said. “I’ve always tried to prepare myself for the past couple of weeks that I’ve had, but no hurt, no pain has been this great. However, it’s made me grow up a lot, and I just hope I can just make him proud from now on.”

Clay also got his dad’s vest at Wednesday’s ceremony. He said he’ll buckle it in to his front seat, so his dad will always be with him.

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