When you think about a police officer what comes to mind? How well do you know your local and/or state policemen? This week, the Martin County Journal is helping you get to know Indiana State Police Trooper Jarrod Lents.
Thirty-year-old Jarrod is originally from Loogootee - having lived in the city until he was six years old and attending kindergarten and first grade. When his parents divorced, he and his mom moved to Lawrence County. He went to elementary school and junior high at Oolitic and graduated in 1999 from Bedford North Lawrence High School.
After high school, Jarrod went to Indiana State University graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminology.
As a child, he travelled back to Loogootee every other weekend for visits with his dad and grandparents and spent weekends in the city during college. "A lot of people think I actually went to school in Martin County," he said. He did eventually move back in 2006.
Jarrod has been married since 2010. His wife, Jennifer, is the manager of a finance company. The couple has a two-year-old son. Jarrod is a member of St. Martin Catholic Church in Whitfield.
Jarrod said he first knew he wanted to be a cop when he was very young. "I used to watch the old 1960's Dragnet television show on Nick at Nite. It was not a show for children but I loved it," he said. "Every time I saw that big LAPD badge on the screen during the theme song, I knew what I wanted to do." Jarrod said he was very impatient to get done with school so he would work to becoming a police officer. He applied to the state police when he was 21 years old but was denied the job. At the age of 23, during his last year of college, he applied again and was accepted. He started academy training in May of 2004, two weeks after graduating from college. After graduating from the academy in October of 2004 and appointed a state trooper, he was assigned to the Lafayette Post and patrolled Montgomery and Fountain counties. In July of 2006, his transfer to the Jasper Post was accepted and he moved back to Martin County. He now patrols Martin and Daviess counties, primarily during the night shift.
Jarrod said there was really no one who inspired him to become a police officer but he has had officers inspired him since he has been on the force. "Every time I get in a rut or frustrated with the job, I think about the officers who have been killed in the line of duty and I realize how fortunate I have it," he said.
As far as his police work in Martin County, Jarrod said that for such a small population, the county has a lot of troublemakers and criminals. "There are some people that I deal with that I know have been arrested more times than I care to count," he said adding that it is very frustrating to put a person away multiple times on felony charges and then to have to deal with them again and again. He said drugs are the worst problem but alcohol is another issue citing that people make a lot of dumb decisions when the are drunk. He said another problem is people not being able to take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their teenagers. "If people did, that the crime rate would probably be cut by a lot," he said.
When asked what the best thing is about being a police officer, Jarrod said he's not sure, but he knows that he personally enjoys taking a drunk or drug-impaired driver off of the road. "That is probably my favorite part of the job," he decided. He added that he was no saint growing up so he knows from personal experience how incredibly dangerous drunk driving is. "I can't remember the last time we had a fatal vehicle accident involving alcohol; I know there hasn't been many in the last several years," he said attributing that partly to the vigorous enforcement that he and Trooper Sexton do every night.
The worst part about the job, for him, is seeing children living in awful conditions and with parents who don't seem to consider their kids their first priority in life. "I get sick of seeing little kids living in houses that aren't fit for a dog to live in," he said. He said that finances can't be to blame either, "a person doesn't have to be rich to keep a clean house." He went on to say that he has had parents tell him that they can't afford to feed their children, and while telling him this they are smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. "It's disgusting," he said. "Kids in that situation don't have a chance."
When asked if there was anything he would like the average citizen to know about state troopers, Jarrod replied that he thinks everyone should know that the state police do not have a ticket quota that they have to meet. He said ticket quotas are illegal and no one tells him how many tickets to write per month. "I don't win a new TV if I reach that imaginary number," he said adding that getting a ticket from him or another police officer isn't personal and it doesn't mean that they don't like you or think you are a bad person. He said the same goes for the people he arrests. "When I arrest someone, it's not personal to me," he said. "They broke the law and they go to jail, that's how it works." He added that sometimes the suspect makes it personal which accomplishes nothing.
He said he also thinks people should know that when they get pulled over for what seems like a minor thing such as having no license plate lights or not using their turn signal, it is for the officers to check for impaired drivers or those who may be in possession of drugs. He said that if the person isn't intoxicated or doing anything illegal, they get a warning and are on their way. "It can be annoying, but people need to realize that the next guy I stop could be drunk and was possibly going to kill someone before he made it home," he said. "That someone who gets killed could be your child or family member."
In 2009, Jarrod was chosen as the Jasper District Trooper of the Year due to his criminal and traffic enforcement for that year.
Getting to Know Series, Story #5 Jarrod Lents, ISP Trooper