Garrett police officer Jacob Houston is just beginning his career in law enforcement. The Daily Light continues its weekly “Behind the Badge” series, to be published each Sunday, in an effort to get to know the officers that serve and protect us on a daily basis.
Tell me how you got into law enforcement?
I was a reserve here in Garrett for four months, and I’ve been a full time officer for three months, so I’m still a rookie.
I wanted a career that was worthwhile and I wanted to help others. I went to high school in Irving, and met and married my wife, who lives in Ennis. So the move from a large urban area to rural Ellis County has been interesting. I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I could help people, and it’s sort of funny. Growing up, you watch the movies or you watch television shows that deal with law enforcement, you tend to think that every shift is filled with non-stop action. I don’t think that’s true on any police force. Right now, I think Garrett has a population of about 1,000 people, and right now we have three full time officers and 10 reserves that work out of this department.
What makes working as a police officer in Garrett rewarding?
Working in Garrett, or probably any other small community, you’re able to get a lot more personal with the folks you serve. I’ve been here just at seven months, and I can walk down just about any street in Garrett and I’m going to know who they are and we can sit and talk about their family or jobs or whatever they want to.
We’ll work some traffic on the highway (Interstate 45), but we tend to focus most of our work here in town. Working around 45 is a whole different world, because you really don’t know who you’re going to stop or where they’re from, but the other thing is just the sheer volume of traffic. It is amazing how much traffic goes up and down that highway day and night.
You’re a young guy. Graduated from high school in 2010. What qualities do up-and-coming law enforcement officers need to have or be aware of?
You know, if they’re dead set on doing it, like I was, I think I would tell them to stay out of trouble. Stay focused on their school work and don’t let your studies slip. You also have to know that going into a position in public service, you’re not going into it for the money. Something else has to drive you and push you toward wanting to help people.
We encounter a lot of people, and unfortunately, some may be at the lowest point in their life. That’s where that need to help people comes in. You want to be the person to help them or guide them into a better position or better place in their life.
So Garrett PD is a small police force, which means you probably have interactions with other law enforcement agencies here in Ellis County. Maybe Ellis County Sheriff’s Office out in some of the rural areas or DPS on the interstate. What are those working relationships like?
You know, most nights I’m here by myself, and if I’ve ever needed anything, help has been here just that fast. I think the level of professionalism in all of the agencies we work with is extremely high. There are good men and women out there who are quietly doing some amazing things for the people in their community and in this county.
So with just three full-time officers on staff here in Garrett, kind of run through a day for me and tell me what you do.
The first thing I do when I come on shift is to look over my vehicle and make sure everything is OK. Make sure it’s ready to roll. After that, it’s a little paperwork. I’ll look over an bulletins or house watches. We’ll get notes
or phone calls from citizens wanting us to come take a look at something, so I’ll go through those messages and prioritize what needs to be done.
After that, I’ll spend some time in town checking on businesses. Maybe there’s the occasional loud party that you have to kind of calm down. But you know, every day is different. Every day. I’ve can honestly say I’ve never had just a textbook day.
Garrett is relatively quiet. What are some of the bigger things you’ve had to face as a police officer here?
Having only been here a short time, nothing really major. Maybe a small drug possession or the occasional disturbance call here and there. All in all, the folks here in Garrett are very respectful of both their neighbors and the officers. The citizens are outstanding. It’s just a great community to be a part of.
Is city government here in Garrett supportive of the force and the work you’re doing here, and is the department at a good staffing level?
Without a doubt. Matt Newsom is our mayor, and he’s been outstanding. He’s very supportive of the department, and he’s also very supportive of the folks here in Garrett. You know, you asked if Garrett was growing, and I think population is very slowly increasing. I’m not in that decision making loop, but right now we’re probably adequately staffed. Could be that we could use another officer down the road, but I think we’re in a good position to serve our citizens.