Hall of duty: New school resource officer’s job is tailor made for his desire to serve and protect
ROCK FALLS – Officer Jarrett Ludwig doesn’t mind being honest about his sub-par basketball skills because, for him, shooting hoops during open gym is more about spending time with students than the quality of his 3-pointer.
The 31-year-old from Dixon is Rock Falls High School’s first resource officer in 13 years, and although Ludwig has only been on the job for a few weeks, he already feels right at home.
Being a school resource officer is something he’s wanted to do for a while, and when the job at Rock Falls High School opened up, Ludwig was one of the few to volunteer for the position.
“I feel like I have a better ability to make a difference as a resource officer,” he said, comparing the past 8 years he’s been on patrol. “On patrol, my interactions with kids usually weren’t under the best circumstances. But here, I can be with people and make a positive impact day-to-day.”
Ludwig’s new office is at the school, and he’ll also respond to reports at Rock Falls Middle School, but the majority of his time is spent walking the halls during passing periods and chatting with students during lunch.
“It’s probably my favorite thing to do – other than play basketball because I’m pretty horrible at it,” Ludwig said with a laugh.
It’s all in an effort to make meaningful connections with the students in order to better protect them.
“The kids want to be safe – they know more than I do – so by building that trust they know they can come to me for protection,” he said.
Giving back to the kids in the community has always been a part of his plan; he was once torn between becoming a teacher or a police officer. His original plan was to be a math teacher, but his desire to not just serve but protect won the tug-of-war between the two careers.
“I’m the protective type. I became a police officer because I want to protect my community, country and family,” he said.
Police Chief Tammy Nelson agrees.
“Jarrett loves kids; he’s a family man, and he’ll do a great job in the schools,” she said.
Being a family man gave him a jump start on the job skills he needs in his new role. Ludwig and his wife, Lora, 30, have three girls; Abby Johnson, 13; Kelsie Ludwig, 7; and Baylin Ludwig, 3; and he said his experience as a dad is just one advantage on the job.
“Being a dad certainly helps, but I’ve always been a protector, even as a lifeguard at church camp,” Ludwig said.
And Ludwig wouldn’t want it any other way.
“Being in the school feels right. I want to be here as long as the school needs me,” he said.
“I’d do anything to keep them safe, just like I would with my family.”