The Smyrna Police Department is finally back at full capacity with 23 police officers with the hiring of Jessica Jacobs. After spending the past four years with the Harrington Police Department, Jacobs decided to apply to Smyrna in order to have more opportunities in the future.

Starting in October, Jacobs has spent the past couple months learning the ropes of the Smyrna Police Department. She recently sat down with the Sun-Times to talk about why she chose the career of a police officer and how things have been so far in Smyrna.

Q What made you want to become a police officer?

A I always wanted to be in law enforcement since I was a little kid. I wanted to be an attorney but decided I couldn't sit behind a desk.

Q Why did you apply to Smyrna?

A Smyrna has more opportunity; I came from a ten-person department, to a department twice the size. They [Harrington Police] didn't have a S.R.O. (School Resource Officer). I did a temporary stint at W. T. Chipman Middle School where I taught the G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education And Training) program and really enjoyed it. Being an S.R.O. is one of the opportunities I have in Smyrna that I wouldn't have had in Harrington.

Q What do you like about working with students?

A I enjoy working with the kids. You're not always ruining someone's day in the schools. Most people only see police officers when they're having a bad day, and in the schools you get to build relationships with the students, parents, and staff that you wouldn't normally get to.

When you go to the schools, you have a chance to change those kid's perspectives. I taught G.R.E.A.T. to 97 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at Chipman Middle School, and at the end of the class we had them all write letters telling us what they learned from it. You wouldn't believe the amount of kids that actually put in the letters, "I was afraid of police, I hated police until you." It's just knowing that they had the connection that can make them see we're not just a uniform, we are people too. That's what I love about the schools, not to mention you might actually influence one kid to do the right thing.

Q What do you enjoy about being a police officer?

A I enjoy being a police officer because there is always something different going on. You never see the same thing from one day to the next.

Q What's it been like so far since you started in Smyrna?

A Fine. Police work is similar no matter where you are, you deal with the same crime, you deal with the same stuff; it's just learning the policies like how they [a department] do their paperwork. It's larger than Harrington so I'm getting used to the roads – that's one big part I have to get used to.

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