Jerry Davich: Hobart cop inspires others while informing community
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org July 14, 2012 7:57PM
Sarah Nussen works at the Hobart Police Department in Hobart, Ind. Thursday May 31, 2012. Nussen, a Purdue University Calumet graduate, began as an intern at the department, and was then hired as a clerk. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:25AM
Do you know Hobart Police Lt. Jack Grennes?
Do you know about the great public service work his office does every day?
Do you know he just started his 17th year in the department and still some of his fellow officers don’t fully understand all of his duties?
That’s OK. I didn’t know either until one of his co-workers told me about Grennes, who repeatedly insisted to me that his public service division is all about “we” and not “me.”
Although his division is comprised of only him and his assistant, Amanda Frank, “we represent all members — civilian and sworn — of the Hobart Police Department,” he told me.
OK, duly noted. But from what I can tell, Grennes is busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest, as are most police department public relations officers. (Valparaiso Police Sgt. Mike Grennes, that department’s public information officer, is Jack Grennes’ nephew, by the way.)
I’ve been meaning to write about (Jack) Grennes for months now, and shame on me for not doing so until now. But, generally speaking, cops would rather leave home without their gun and badge than talk to me about their good deeds and accomplishments.
Grennes is no different. But he very much wants to get out the word about his department’s public outreach efforts, programs and initiatives, so he’s stuck talking to me.
“In order to do public relations work, you must be passionate about what you’re doing,” he said.
In Grennes’ case, he’s passionate about the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, which he’s been teaching to fifth graders for 13 years. He’s been twice named Indiana’s D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year, in 2004 and 2008.
“Even though only one officer is chosen each year, all D.A.R.E. officers in Indiana are deserving of this award,” he said in typical cop-speak.
In other words, more “we” than “me” comments, as I expected. In fact, Grennes initially replied to me only to tout someone else in the department, Sarah Nussen, a recent Purdue University Calumet graduate. She arrived as part of his office’s college internship program and, 200 work hours later, she was hired there as a records clerk.
Nussen, who’s training to become a police dispatcher, was already sworn in as a reserve police officer with a long-term goal of becoming a full-time officer.
“Lt. Grennes’ law enforcement class in high school is what inspired me to choose my career path,” said Nussen, whom I owe an apology to for putting off this column for too long.
Grennes, who’s always looking for new candidates, said the internship program is an excellent way for college students to see his department’s daily operations and to understand its role in the community.
“Hopefully we are influencing young people to help them make positive choices in their life,” he added.
Program for you?
Not surprisingly, his assistant, Amanda Frank, also was a former fifth-grade D.A.R.E. student of his, and she now helps with current programs and future plans. Together, their list of programs is lengthy and growing.
Here are just a few of them: Neighborhood Watch Program, child identification program, senior dementia/Alzheimer’s log, child safety seat inspections, National Night Out against crime, and a bi-weekly crime watch newsletter.
“Currently on our 135th issue, it gives the community tips on scams and safety, including a police blotter so they know what is going on throughout Hobart and updates on any current crime trends,” he explained.
The newsletter (which I now receive) can be emailed to residents or picked up at eight locations throughout the city. Future programs include a Citizens Academy, a Business Crime Watch and an adopt-a-school program.
This year’s National Night Out, an annual nationwide event, takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Hobart Community Pool, 810 W. 10th St.
“It encourages residents to get out in the community and get to know their fellow residents as a way to encourage crime prevention,” Grennes happily explained. “It’s a great way to promote community-police partnerships and enjoy an Indiana summer evening surrounded by community leaders, neighbors, family and friends.”
That evening, the city pool will be open for free swimming and refreshments, while also featuring K-9 demonstrations, free child identification cards and car seat inspections. Also on display will be police patrol cars, mountain bikes, ATVs and crime scene investigation equipment.
“We also work with the Maria Reiner Senior Center, doing presentations about scams and other safety topics,” Grennes said. “And we are planning a CSI workshop for the seniors sometime this fall, where they will work a mock homicide scene.”
Grennes, who’s been married 33 years to wife, Cathe, has two children — Matthew, a 2010 Wabash College graduate, and Katie, a junior at Purdue University. Before becoming a cop at age 37, Grennes owned an Amoco Oil gas station in Hobart.
“I always looked up to the police, as a resident and businessman, and knew that they can make a difference if they are involved in a positive way,” he said. “They influenced me to change careers to also make a difference and be a positive role model for young people.”
He is certainly doing that. Just ask Nussen, Frank and the countless kids he has influenced through the years. This exemplifies the “serve” aspect of serve-and-protect police work, which too often goes unnoticed by the public.
To contact Grennes’ office, call 942-1125, Ext. 1070, email him at email@example.com, or write to him at 705 E. 4th St., Hobart, IN 46342.
A “thank you” or two would be nice, but don’t tell him I suggested it.
Find more of Jerry’s writings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and jerrydavich.wordpress.com.