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The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Celebrating Black Excellence, Leader Spotlight: Officer Jeff James

Jeff James
WO Police Department photo

Officer James is the school resource officer also known as SRO. He is in charge of safety, any criminal activities, and when anything inadequate happens in the building he takes police reports and turns them into the police department for investigation. James has been working as a West Orange police officer for 16 years. The local high school has been working as the SRO for 2 years. 

He has had a remarkable experience at West Orange so far. Many students look up to him and think of him as a father figure or counselor. He is more approachable to students because they do not think of him as a typical “street cop.” Many students call him nicknames such as OG, Officer James, and Sergeant James. The students at West Orange feel safe and close to him as he gives them advice and acts as a mentor to them. 

“I try to give them the presence of being approachable.” Officer James states “[I] suppose when you’re out on the street some kids are fearful of cops.” Working here has positively impacted James because he is more understanding of kids’ mentality. James goes through challenges everyday because “we are public servants” and he never caters to one side. James mentions, “…when two people are arguing we have to make sure both people are happy at the end of the day.” To help with these challenges he makes sure to treat everyone the same in every situation he has to deal with. 

Growing up James was raised in East Orange and played basketball throughout his senior year. He attended Essex County College for 2 years. Then, got a job to be a mechanic soon after that and went to trade school to be a diesel mechanic. He pursued that for 9 years in New Jersey Transit but then made a decision to become a police officer at the tender age of 35. He loves the job he currently has now. He has two kids that went to the school and now has one more kid left, who is a junior. His first 10 years the job wasn’t available due to him being a rookie and needing experience. Eventually he went to SRO school and when he was ready to take the job, he applied again.

He has been involved in a Junior Police Academy that is a summer program for the kids from grades 6 to 8th.Where for a week they give them what they call a “mock academy.” This involves doing push ups, being taught discipline, learning honor and integrity. As an award they take them on trips so that they can also enjoy their time. He also worked on night shift for some of the years. Officer James came to West Orange 21 years ago. He wanted to raise his kids in West Orange. 

“I [would] rather teach the kids a better way to handle a situation rather than punishment.” He is a well known trusted figure at West Orange. Many students look up to James in many ways and may seek help from him. He wants to make a change and be welcoming so that less people would hate the police. His biggest lesson is that “you have to get good grades.” He is a very smart and wise person and has made the staff and school a safer space everyday. One thing he would tell his younger self is to “stay in college.” He wished he stayed in college and now he pushes his  children to be the first James to finish college.  

Officer James’s commitment to fostering trust, mentorship, and a positive atmosphere at West Orange High School highlights his dedication to not only ensuring safety but also to being a supportive figure for the students, embodying the essence of community policing.

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