Colchester police Detective Mark Jacobs assumed his position as the new school resource officer for Colchester School District on August 28.
As SRO, Jacobs is one of two CPD officers stationed on campus. Jacobs’ colleague, Officer Christian Mellen, is the D.A.R.E officer at Colchester High School, where he educates underaged kids about drug and alcohol abuse.
Jacobs’ role is more similar to that of a traditional police officer, he explained. His duties include investigating complaints of any crimes that take place on school grounds, and he’s also responsible for investigating and preventing truancy.
“There’s also day-to-day officer presence within the schools,” Jacobs said. “Meeting the students, building a rapport with them – if they have questions, or want to come talk to a law enforcement officer about something, I want to be approachable to them.”
On that count, it seems like he’s succeeding. He’s met just about every member of the student body, and said students and faculty members have gone out of their way to make him feel welcome.
“It’s only his third week, and I’ve already seen him on numerous occasions interacting and talking with students,” superintendent Amy Minor said. “He’s kind, passionate and genuine. I’ve never seen an SRO so quickly develop a rapport with students.”
At the CPD, Jacobs said, officers can apply for extra details, like special investigator or SRO, as they become available. If selected, the officer serves in that capacity for a five-year term.
Jacobs applied for SRO detail following a five-year stint working felony cases as a plainclothes investigator.
After an interview with both the district and police leadership, he was selected for the detail.
Despite being the only applicant, Jacobs’ personality and manner make him well suited to work as an SRO, Minor said.
“He has this kind, quiet, calming but commanding presence,” she said. “Youth need somebody who’s going to make him feel important at that moment. Every time I watch Mark interact with our students, that’s the first thing that comes across.”
Jacobs has been on the Colchester police force for over two decades. At every point in that timespan, he’s served as either a plainclothes investigator or a uniformed patrol officer. This SRO position is his first detail in which he’ll be serving outside of those capacities.
“It gives me something completely different from what I’ve been doing in the last 20 years,” Jacobs said. It gets me out in the community more than I’ve ever been able to be.”
So far, Jacobs said, he’s found that change of pace refreshing.
“I’ve been able to go out and see different people, go different places, kinda hang out with the students,” he said. “It’s been nice. It’s been kinda fun.”
It’s also been a challenge. The school district’s rules and operations are very different from the police department’s, Jacobs said, and he expects he’ll have to negotiate the learning curve in the next few weeks.
But while the job is a departure from his old position, Jacobs said he’s sensitive to the needs of the students he serves.
“I have three kids of my own, in the high school, the middle school and the elementary school, and I see the struggles that they have and what they go through,” he said. “Overall, it’s been a good change for me. I think that it’s going to be a good learning experience.”