Lewes-native Patrick Jackson always wanted to be a police officer.
He once worked as a seasonal officer in Lewes, joined Cape High's JROTC program and studied criminal justice in college. Now a Delaware State Police trooper, Jackson maintains the same enthusiasm and dedication for law enforcement. And it hasn't gone unnoticed, as he was recently honored as Trooper of the Year.
“This is a job of a lifetime, and I'm totally happy with what I'm doing,” Jackson said. “I was absolutely surprised and caught off guard.”
The state police began recognizing troopers of the year in 1979, which puts Jackson in an elite class.
To be nominated, a trooper must exceed performance standards and be recognized by his or her peers as one who consistently displays integrity and work ethic. Jackson is not overlooking the significance and magnitude of the award.
“It's very humbling,” he said. “It makes you take a deep breath and count your blessings.”
Jackson's name will join 36 others on a plaque at the police academy in Dover.
“As I look over the names on that plaque, a lot of those names are easily recognizable,” he said. “There's a lot of positive conversations about them. That's when it sinks in that I'm a part of that group.”
Jackson said there have been a lot of people who have molded him into the person he is today – his family being at the top of the list. Neither of his parents are in the law enforcement field, but they did not waiver in their support when their son wanted to get into a dangerous line of work.
“They would tell me I could do anything as long as I worked hard and stuck with it,” he said. “That goes all the way up to my very supportive wife. Without the support of family, I don't think a lot of things are possible. Support makes it a lot easier.”
Jackson is a 2001 graduate of Cape Henlopen High School. He was a member of the Vikings' basketball team for three years under coach Jerry Peden. He was named a Cape Gazette Athlete of the Week in 2001 after an impressive performance against Hodgson in the 2001 state tournament. Still, it was his time in the JROTC program that really made an impression during his younger years, specifically advisor Lt. Col. Ron Erale,
“I give him a lot of credit. He did a really good job of providing good examples of what could be possible,” he said. “It's neat to hear that from someone at school. I could talk to him about law enforcement and what my aspirations were. He really made a big impact.”
After graduating from Cape, Jackson worked summers as a seasonal officer in the Lewes Police Department. All the while, he was studying criminal justice at Delaware Technical Community College. He is now continuing his education at Wilmington University and hopes to attain a bachelor's degree in the future.
In 2008, he was hired by Chief Mike Redmon at the Bethany Beach Police Department. He worked for the town for 3.5 years before achieving his lifetime goal of working for the state police. Jackson was based out of Troop 7 in Lewes, but he recently moved to Troop 4 in Georgetown to work as a detective with the Governor's Task Force. His day-to-day duties now have him doing proactive street level enforcement, probationary checks and addressing nuisance issues and homes. He said the focus is on more short-term street crimes.
Jackson's investigative work was one of the contributing factors in his recognition. In January 2013, Jackson used information he received from a traffic stop to dig deeper into a rash of thefts and burglaries. His investigation identified a suspect who was arrested for more than 100 crimes.
While only his name is added to the Trooper of the Year plaque, Jackson said, he couldn't have done it without the support of his colleagues. He specifically acknowledged Sgt. Jamie Dorsey-Sterner, his shift supervisor. He said she did a good job of giving him and his colleagues time to go to after-school programs in communities, like West Rehoboth, Burton Village and Cool Springs, to do community relations work. That is a part of the job he really enjoys.
“I try to be a positive influence in their lives,” he said. “It is something that I enjoy doing. We're having a positive impact on the community down there, and it benefits everyone involved.”
He's also worked with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for 10 years.
When off duty, Jackson enjoys hunting, fishing, the beach and spending time with his family. He said he will always cherish the honor.
“A nomination is just really unbelievable, being that there are so many troopers across the state,” he said. “Being Trooper of the Year, it's really almost surreal when I stop and think about it. I don't think it's sunk in yet.”