Charleston's own 'Batman' hanging up his cape
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - One of Charleston's most recognized public servants is "hanging up the bat cape" after nearly 23 years on the police beat.
It's an understatement to say Lt. Duke Jordan, 45, whose last day on the job is Friday, is well known around the capital city.
The Rand native has authored a book on personal relationships, mastered the trombone, piano and drums, invented fitness equipment, served as a Marine, danced for charity and sold real estate. He even peddled Mary Kay cosmetics at one point.
Most of his 22 years with the Charleston Police Department were spent on bike patrol. For the past several years, his 8,561 Facebook friends have known when he was on duty when his profile picture changed to that of Batman.
One of the few things he hasn't done is run for office, but he's not ruling that out.
Like all officers, he started his law enforcement career in the patrol division.
He announced his retirement on Facebook over the weekend and received more than 400 "likes" and nearly 200 comments congratulating him and thanking him for his service.
"I want to be able to walk out, not hobble out," Jordan said. "I'm at a point where it's just time for me to move on."
He will be starting as a military contractor next month at the armory in St. Albans, a move he says feels "like I'm going back home" because of his time with the Marine Corps.
A 1985 DuPont High School graduate, he joined the Marines after high school. He spent four years in the Corps and was selling real estate with his mother, Naomi Jordan, when he ran into one of his father's hunting buddies, city police officer Willie Brooks.
It was around the time the city was involved in an affirmative action lawsuit. Brooks told him the city was looking for minorities for the police department and encouraged him to apply.
Jordan took the test and was hired.
"We came from a background of just getting along with everybody and bringing peace to the table," Jordan said of his family. "We're peacemakers."
That background heavily influenced his attitude toward police work. He said he tried to bring solutions to people on the streets.
"Policemen have a lot of discretion," he said. "I've been fair to everyone, whether it's a crack head or a doctor. I've tried to treat everyone the same and give everybody a chance."
With stops along the way in the traffic, community policing, patrol and detective units, Jordan said his best time was spent on a bicycle.
He spent a number of years on the city's bike unit and often could be seen pedaling around town in his bright blue uniform shirt, stopping and talking to citizens or sneaking up on bad guys.
He estimates he has handed out more than 100,000 business cards over the course of his career.
"I enjoyed riding the bike the most," he said. "The biggest benefits of it were twofold. I always liked being out amongst the people because that's when you hear things and see things and really start to break down barriers.
"Not to mention the weight loss benefits."
He said his body changed after leaving the bike unit and taking over as the C-Shift commander, a more administrative position.
Jordan tries to stay active and enjoys working out. Fitness led him to two of his inventions, the Dumbbell Partner Plus and the Tri-Isolator Plus.
He always has been a multi-tasker. He performed for years in his family's singing groups, playing the drums and singing in "Gospel Family Affair" and singing and playing the trombone in the "Jordan Family" group.
A married father of two, he also wrote a book for singles called "Hook Line & Single," which applied a fishing analogy to finding that special someone.
His co-workers took to calling him the "Caped Crusader" in his younger days when he was running down suspects, vaulting fences and climbing trees, he said. But when a chase grounded him with a knee injury in the 1990s, he took to selling Mary Kay cosmetics, according to a Daily Mail story.
A flip through the archives turned up more stories involving Jordan, including when he was voted "Charleston's Sexiest Man" during a nightclub contest in 2003 and his participation in the city's take on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2009.
He recently resumed selling real estate and says he has been doing well with Great Expectations Realty in Charleston. Of his many endeavors, he thinks real estate will provide the best living for his family.
His exploits on the police department have been noted in local media over the years. There was the time he tracked graffiti artists engaged in a citywide tagging war, and the time he talked down a man who was mourning the death of a girlfriend and planned to jump from an eight-story parking garage in 2001.
"It's rewarding," he said of police work. "The most rewarding thing out here is to know you've helped somebody. It's rewarding to see people making it out here."
He's received several emails from fellow officers, some telling him they hate to see him go and others wishing him well.
Chief Brent Webster said he is happy for Jordan. The chief wasn't shocked when Jordan told him of his retirement plans.
"We always like to see our guys and ladies move on when they're ready and eligible," Webster said. "We're happy for him. He'll do well."
He said Jordan, who never met a stranger, was always very accessible.
He said officers come to grips early on with their eventual departure from the force.
"You just hope you'll leave a legacy or a good enough impression that you'll be missed," Webster said. "I just know from an administrative standpoint anytime you have people retire - especially seasoned officers - you feel it."
Webster said the police department's retirement plan is "very good" as officers can retire early and go on to something else. However, Jordan won't be able to draw pension benefits until he is 50.
Webster won't know who will take Jordan's place until sometime next week.
When asked what he hoped younger officers had learned from him, Jordan said, "To treat people how they would want to be treated.
"None of us are walking on water out here, so if you can help someone, help them," Jordan said.
"That's why they give us discretion. Jail is not the answer to every situation, nor are handcuffs. Sometimes people just want to talk to somebody."
As for what's next, he'll continue to sell real estate while working at the armory in St. Albans.
But the question on the minds of many is this: Will there someday be a Mayor Jordan or Senator Jordan?
He doesn't deny that he still has political aspirations, but he said nothing has been decided.
"I do not know if I'm going to run for anything just yet," he said, laughing. "There are some stars that have to line up first before I go down that road.
"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't looked at it or thought about it. Whether it's delegate, senator or mayor, I've always wanted to help people or just be that person that people can come to."
A public reception for Jordan will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at City Hall. Cake and punch will be served.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.