Summit Police Chief James Isaac, who took the reins of the department nearly four years ago and ran it with the military precision often associated as the dominant trademark of his personality, died Thursday morning following a battle with cancer.
Mayor Percy Robinson confirmed Isaac’s death.
Isaac was 54.
Isaac joined Summit’s police force in 1997 and became chief on Dec. 8, 2015, after former chief Kenny Cotton was elected Pike County sheriff.
Before becoming a police officer, Isaac had served in the U.S. Army and later with the Reserves.
“When I left the regular Army, I knew I still wanted to be in some occupation that had structure,” he said in a 2015 interview with the Enterprise-Journal. “When I realized the police is a para-military style, I decided I wanted to go the police avenue as far as an occupation.”
Isaac’s career in law enforcement began as an undercover officer in Meridian. The Amite County native later applied to go to work in Summit, where he remained throughout his career.
“I find that the small-town policing fit my demeanor,” he said. “I think (that’s) why I stayed here so long.”
Robinson said Isaac will leave a lasting impact on the town.
“One thing about Chief Isaac, he was well respected among the citizens in the community and all of the merchants in downtown Summit and in other places that he went,” Robinson said. “He was a friend of mine. We got along real well. He was military. I was military. Most of all he was always concerned about the citizens of the town of Summit. He always made sure they were going to be kept safe.
“He was always so professional in whatever he did,” he said.
Town officials lifted Isaac’s family up in prayer at the start of a recent work session.
It’s unclear who will lead the department after Isaac. Longtime Summit police officer Kevin Kirk had been sitting in on town board meetings recently in Isaac’s absence.
The town council was expected to meet at 11:30 this morning to discuss the future of department leadership.
Isaac’s life was marked by difficulty in later years with the death of his first wife. Later he lost his home to fire and was diagnosed with lung cancer in the same year. He was in remission and returned to work until a few weeks ago, when town officials said the cancer had returned to his brain and spine.
“He fought a lot of fights and fortunately he managed to defeat it,” Robinson said. “Then came the second round. The second round, he had the will but the odds were just too much against him.
“We are going to miss him.”
Cook’s Enterprise Funeral Home in McComb has charge of arrangements, which are incomplete.