Jeremy Mortimer never thought he would be a police officer.
Mortimer joined the U.S. Army for three and a half years after high school before joining the National Guard for about a year, thinking he might become a paramedic. When he decided that wasn’t the route for him, he started studying criminal justice at McHenry County College and joined the Harvard Police Department in 2004.
He’s been in law enforcement ever since.
After a year with Harvard, Mortimer joined the Woodstock Police Department, working the midnight shift, and five years ago, he became a school resource officer for the high schools in Woodstock Community Unit School District 200.
Starting on the midnight shift with Woodstock caused him to be involved with many negative situations and bad people, Mortimer said. Working as a school resource officer, though, allows him to deal with “awesome” people.
“For me, it’s just a positive reminder that there are still good people in the world today,” Mortimer said.
Being a school resource officer includes everything from handling emergency situations at the school to interacting with students in the hall to teaching them about new trends on social media, Mortimer said.
“It takes a special type of person to be able to excel in that environment,” Woodstock Police Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Parsons said.
Parsons oversees Mortimer and said he has helped develop programs in the classroom to teach students about new trends, such as sexting and cyberbullying.
It’s the longevity of what Mortimer has done in his position as school resource officer for the past five years, Parsons said, that earned him the recognition of the Woodstock Police Department’s Police Officer of the Year award.
Mortimer said he loves his job because it’s different every day. He balances his time between Woodstock High School and Woodstock North High School throughout the week.
“The thing that I really enjoy doing, and I think one of the main purposes of this position, is getting out in the hallways, meeting with the kids, building that rapport, letting them know that cops are humans, too,” Mortimer said.
And building those relationships with students has paid off.
Mortimer said a student once came back to his office to tell him Mortimer had saved his life by preventing him from killing himself.
“If I can maybe make a difference, even though it’s small, I think that’s a good thing,” Mortimer said, later adding, “Building that rapport and actually witnessing them come to me and trust me as that figure is just so unique and positive and it’s really cool.”
Mortimer said the hardest part of his job is when a student he believed was making some headway getting on the right path falls back into their same problems.
Woodstock North Principal Brian McAdow said Mortimer understands the school’s mission of preparing students for the real world.
“It would be very easy to look at students who make a mistake, whether it be a parking or speeding ticket, in a black-and-white situation,” McAdow said. “But [Mortimer’s] ability to see gray and to work within in our system … that’s very, very beneficial because, again, we’re trying to help kids make the right decision.”
Mortimer’s personable and charismatic nature also is what makes him a good person for the job, McAdow said, adding it’s evident in how Mortimer works with the students that he has children of his own.
Mortimer said he’s also been involved with the Shop with a Cop program and helps with school dances and the teen dance at Woodstock’s Summer in the Park.