Retiring Carson City officer sought to change mindset about police in schools
For Carson City Deputy Sheriff Jarrod Adams, building relationships with the community’s students and guiding their understanding of law enforcement in a positive direction was a top priority when he became a school resource officer in 2015.
“They’d get to know you and it’d always amuse my wife when we’d be shopping on the weekend, and in a store, I’d literally get swarmed by the kids,” Adams said. “A group of kids would be, ‘There’s our cop! There’s our SRO!’ And all would come up to me and hug me, and everybody else would be like, ‘What’s going on?’ ”
Adams, one of the Carson City Sheriff’s Office’s original SROs in its program, now in its fifth year, has retired as of last week, and while he says he looks forward to taking things “one day at a time” for now, he hopes he helped to leave a positive imprint on the school district and the community.
Adams’ career in law enforcement began when he was 19 in 1991 working at the Nevada Department of Prisons as a cook.
“At the time, my father was captain at the Nevada Department of Prisons, and when I was 21, I transferred into the corrections side of the department and I became a correctional officer to follow in his footsteps,” he said.
He stayed there between 1992 to 2000 when he was hired as a deputy sheriff in the CCSO while still working for the Department of Prisons. At the CCSO, he would work in the detention division, as a patrol deputy, in the traffic motors division and as a detective with Tri-Net. Finally, he would become a school resource officer when Sheriff Ken Furlong pursued a grant and Adams decided to apply for one of the positions.
“Throughout my 20-and-a-half years with the sheriff’s office, the highlights were with motors and the other five years as a school resource officer,” Adams said.
The school resource officer program, an ongoing agreement between the city’s Board of Supervisors and the Carson City School District, began in 2015. Furlong wrote a grant for a total of $375,000 covering the salaries and benefits for three permanent officers.
It was a new strategy at the time to offer up the Carson City Sheriff’s deputies’ services to the community and its children in a positive, meaningful way, according to Sgt. Matt Smith said, supervising officer for the department’s SROs. It also meant being specific about recruiting personnel to analyze behavioral or mental crises that often accompanied students’ social or home life outside the classroom, he said.
“This was a cutting-edge thing (to see) how can we integrate our law enforcement into the community, and how can we really push the envelope as far as integrating our police officers and personnel into the schools and into the mindset that we’re always there to help our community.”
The program has experienced such success that two more positions were added last year with supplemental grant funding. This year, the city’s supervisors and the school district voted to split the cost of $430,438 for the SROs for the 2020-21 school year.
Smith said the sheriff’s office is very selective about its candidates for the program.
“We need somebody who has a genuine interest in serving the community in our schools and a genuine interest in children and their safety and their wellbeing,” he said. “We take an overall picture because they have two job assignments in the deputy sheriff’s position but also in how they integrate themselves in the school district. We look at the total package.”
Adams said it’s important to know how to respond to students in and out of the classroom, particularly at a younger age before they embark upon a path of crime as teens or young adults, he said. While he primarily worked with the elementary to middle school age, he already noticed those younger groups developing habits that high schoolers tended to do several years ago.
“One of the biggest trends is social media,” he said. “You have to try to be up to speed on the latest and greatest social media and the new apps. I know how to navigate and help the kids with whatever situation they’re in.”
Adams has spent the past few weeks training his replacement, Smith said, and added as with all the department’s SROs, it’s important for all the school district’s students and community members to know anyone can trust law enforcement officials at any time.
“It’s rewarding because you’re able to help kids hopefully at an age before they get into too much trouble and you can steer their life into a better direction,” Adams said.
Smith said as one of the original officers for the program, Adams gave an “exemplary performance” and that he always received high remarks from staff members who worked with him.
“The biggest foundation for us has been able to get across to kids is we are approachable and we wear many hats,” Smith said. “We’re there for the mentoring aspects and teaching aspects, we’re there to make sure we can help in any way we can. … That’s why our position is so different and that’s why we’re so selective about who we use in this position.”
He also wished Adams the best after his service in the department and as an SRO.
“He was well loved in the district, well-known with all the schools and all the kids loved him,” Smith said. “It’s a very big loss to us. There’s so much Jarrod did for us. He’s going to be hard to replace.”