ROCHELLE — Officer Jim Jakymiw has been with the Rochelle Police Department for 15 years. Since October 2018, he’s been the school resource officer (SRO) for the Rochelle Elementary School District.
As the district’s SRO, Jakymiw is responsible for Rochelle Middle School, Lincoln School, Tilton School and Central School.
“An SRO is more than just a cop in the school,” Jakymiw said. “I am a law enforcement officer, a teacher and an informal counselor. I help resolve any law enforcement or safety issues at the school. I provide school safety training for staff and students, along with other informational talks. I am also someone who can sit with a student when they are having a rough day, listen to them and try to help them have a better rest of the day.”
When Jakymiw was younger and in the Cub Scouts, a local K-9 officer came and spoke to his troop about being a police officer. That officer made him realize that he wanted to get into law enforcement, even at a young age.
Jakymiw went to Western Illinois University and received a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and justice administration. He received SRO training through the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) along with annual training at the NASRO Conference which has multiple speakers, classes and networking with SROs from across the country. Jakymiw is also an ALICE instructor, which is a critical incident response protocol that is taught to school staff and students.
Jakymiw and his wife, Sarah, have three children and enjoy doing anything as a family from board games to traveling and creating memories everywhere they go.
As an SRO, what Jakymiw enjoys most about his job is making positive connections and building relationships with students and staff and being a bridge between the police department and the community.
“I like meeting students that have never talked to or met a police officer,” Jakymiw said. “First impressions stick with you, and because of that I strive to make any interaction with me a positive one. I like that I am able to help students with smaller life problems during our daily interactions, and because of that, when a bigger problem comes up, they have someone who they trust that they can come to.”
Jakymiw said he wants the community to know that school safety is the top priority for himself, RPD and the school district. Parents and the community can help with that too, he said.
“We are doing and will do everything to keep our students and staff as safe as possible, but we can’t do it alone,” Jakymiw said. “School safety starts with you. Talk with your kids about what’s going on and help answer their questions. Let them know if they see, or if you see, anything on social media, overhear someone talking or someone tells them anything that would risk the safety of the school, please report it to RPD right away.”
The elementary district’s SRO said he’s a firm believer in second chances. He’s enjoyed seeing students learn from their mistakes in his time at Rochelle’s schools.
“I remember a student that made a bad choice, but after some conversations with him and his parents, when that same choice came up again he learned from his past mistake and made a better choice,” Jakymiw said. “Seeing kids stumble but then get back up, learn from it and make themselves better from it will never get old to me.”