AKRON, Ohio — At nearly six feet five inches tall, Akron Patrolman Officer Kenny Jones stood out in a crowd, but what his fellow officers really noticed over the years was the consistent kindness the "gentle giant" showed to everyone.
"Kenny was literally the kindest person I've ever known," said Captain Kris Beitzel who joined the force with Jones in 1994. "That came from his faith in God. It came from just the general goodness of who he was."
On Monday, officers wore black mourning bands over their badges to honor the beloved officer who passed away suddenly over the weekend.
"If you presented any issues to Kenny, he would always pray for you. He prayed for people in the streets when they were going through stuff. He didn't have a mean bone in his body," said Officer Calvin Barker.
"He was on a different level, I would say, then a lot of people in their kindness," said Officer Kelly Peters.
Jones, who worked 25 years in the patrol division, finished his shift last Friday evening and seemed fine, according to his co-workers.
But that evening, he complained of pain in his throat. His wife drove him to Summa Akron City Hospital where his condition worsened. He passed away on Saturday. APD leaders are not sure what caused his death.
"I don't know what happened. He was alive when he went to the hospital and suffered some sort of an event while he was at the hospital," Beitzel said.
The officer's first wife died from cancer in 2016. He remarried just six weeks ago. Jones leaves behind three teen-aged children from his first marriage.
"We feel for his children so desperately," Beitzel said. "It's so tough, especially is that a lesson? Losing both parents like that?"
Jones drove Wagon 89 during most of his career and during that time he made a connection with community members, several officers stressed. In fact, many felt like the soft-spoken and friendly cop was like an ambassador for the city.
"He just had that calming personality, a smile that disarmed people and had the ability to take the situation down to a calm level," said Officer Dave Gupta.
According to Lt. Michael Miller, Jones was the first Akron active duty police officer to die since Justin Winebrennner in November of 2016. He was off duty when he was shot and killed while trying to protect customers inside of an Akron bar.
Beitzel said the Akron police family stands ready to help out Jones's family during this very difficult time. She also stressed that the officer's legacy of kindness must live on.
"If there's any lesson that we all need to learn from his life, it's that we all need to be more like Kenny."