A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Corporal Joe Clemmons

JoeClemmonsCorporal Joe Clemmons grew up with a role model in his very own home. Watching his father help the people of Hobart as he rose through the ranks of the Hobart Police Department inspired Clemmons to join the force himself. Cpl Clemmons has changed the city of Hobart as both a patrolman and a Student Resource Officer in the public school system.

In May 2010, Cpl Clemmons had been a police officer for over nine years. A position opened up in the Hobart school district, for a student resource officer. Having grown up in Hobart and gotten his education in its schools, Clemmons recognized this position as something he needed to do.

“I bleed the colors,” he said; and he knew he could make a difference.

That he did. In his first year of SRO Clemmons reestablished the SADD program at the middle school. Once a group that focused on drunk driving, it now teaches kids the risk behind every decision. Students Against Destructive Decisions has a strong influence over children and is a great asset in their education.

Clemmons also created a tip line for students to use when they need to report a crime or emotional situation but fear the repercussions. By dialing 942-TIPS they can get help for suicidal thoughts or share information about potential and realized school incidents.

Another way Clemmons has involved the students in the security of their own school is through a Student Advisory Committee. Two children from each grade meet with him to discuss their school safety recommendations. Cpl Clemmons knows that children see the school in a different way than we do and that their perspective is valuable.

He also knows that when children are scared, they cannot learn.

“When fear walks in,” he says, “Education walks out.” They should not be worried about gunfights and lockdowns, they should be able to focus on their work.

Since becoming SRO, he has opened lines of communication not just with the kids but with parents, staff, and even other schools. He created social medias pages that link the adults involved with the Hobart schools, so they can keep up to date on school security. Clemmons created another page for School Resource Officers throughout the country to talk to each other about issues they are facing, trends in the system, and ideas for how to better secure their children.

With the children themselves he has built a relationship. Clemmons says, “the number one job of the SRO is to be visible. Not just in the school but everywhere. The highest compliment I can get is Man, I see you everywhere.”

Clemmons accomplishes this by being active in his community. He makes sure to go out to restaurants and events, maintaining a presence. He even designed the SRO Police Car in the schools colors so it will be recognizable when he is driving around. Clemmons encourages students to flag him down if they need help.

His free time is spent as a foreman for community service workers or as a coach for the school football team. His children both assist the team with him, as manager and ball boy.

“It’s a different level of trust,” he says, “When they call you coach.”

The 2014-2015 year was Clemmons’ last as SRO but he plans to keep his presence active in the community and especially in the classrooms. That relationship is vital to the continued success of Hobart students. It is time to let someone else have an opportunity to do good in the school district. He has stayed on for two terms and is ready to pursue other career goals. Hopefully, the next SRO can reach the bar he has set and can build the same kind of repertoire with the kids.

“That’s the key. You’ve got to have a relationship with the kids. They’ve got to trust you and you’ve got to trust them. If they trust you they will come to you with information that they normally would not say.”

Cpl Clemmons’ efforts won him the first ever Resource Officer Award, a new commendation of appreciation for the members of NASRO (National Association of School Resource Officers). He also won Officer of the Year in American Legion District 1. Clemmons was a runner-up for the award at the state level.

Clemmons’ goals now are to get his Master’s degree and to achieve Sergeant ranking at the police department. He plans to attend the Northwestern University Staff and Command school to learn more about running a police department and being a leader.

Like his father before him, Cpl Clemmons sets an example that we should all be following.